There are two main categories of burn surgery: acute and reconstructive. Acute burn care occurs immediately after the injury. Complex burns often require consultation with plastic surgeons, who assist with the inpatient and outpatient management of these cases. Large burns, or burns of critical body areas, should be treated at a verified burn center, such as the Trauma Burn Center here at the University of Michigan. Many smaller burns can be treated with outpatient options. Some patients may need reconstructive burn surgery after the initial burn wounds have healed. This type of care is usually provided by a plastic surgeon. The goals of reconstructive burn surgery are to improve both the function and the cosmetic appearance of burn scars. This involves altering scar tissue, with both non-operative and operative treatment.
What are the benefits of reconstructive burn surgery?
Surgery will not be able to remove a patient’s burn scars entirely, but it will help improve basic functions and make scars less noticeable. Scarring can limit the normal motion of the neck, shoulder, hands, or legs. Often surgery to help release this contracture can help a patient regain range of motion. Facial scarring that leads to problems with the eyelids, lips, nose, or hair loss can also be helped with reconstructive burn surgery. Scars that are abnormally thick, wide, or discolored might also be improved by a variety of operative and non-operative methods.
What are the options for reconstructive burn treatment?
Non-operative therapies might involve scar massage, application of pressure garments, or other topical therapies. Occupational therapist at the University of Michigan can help fit patients with pressure garments. The team includes specialty hand therapists who help with rehabilitation of hand burns and scars. Surgical options consist mainly of scar release procedures. The tight scar tissue is released and the open area closed by a plastic surgeon.
If you need reconstructive burn treatment
1) To provide a complete medical history, including information about previous surgical procedures; past and present medical conditions; and any medications or herbal supplements you are taking. 2) Your surgeon to conduct a complete physical examination. 3) To discuss possible risks and complications of the procedure.