Burns are common accidental injuries. Burn management can be acute or reconstructive. Acute burns cause severe pain and distress to the patients and require immediate attention. When the burns are severe and spread over larger body area, it can cause loss of functionality of body part, infection and in worst scenario can result into death. Burns when allowed to heal without proper treatment can lead to scarring. These scars can be unsightly or at times cause restriction of movements. Patients often experience pain and itching as healing happens which gets in the way of work & day-to-day activities. Reconstructive burn surgery is often done after initial burns have healed but burn-injury has either restricted movement or has deformed skin or both. Reconstructive burn surgery helps in improving both function as well as aesthetic appearance of burn scar.
There are various techniques reconstructive burn surgeries. One such technique is skin-graft where skin, bone, nerves, tissues etc. from one part of your body is used to repair burn. In another technique called flap surgery, skin is moved along with underlying fat, blood vessels, muscle etc. to cover burn area. Using Tissue-expander technique, your skin is expanded over a period of time and the expanded skin is used to cover burn scars. Your plastic surgeon will recommend the method most suitable for your requirement.
Burn surgery will help achieve following.
- Improved function
- Less noticeable burn scars
- Improved body image and self-esteem
What about scars?
Scars are an inevitable part of any invasive surgery. Whilst for acute/severe burns, more attention is given to restore functionality; reconstructive burn surgery often provides excellent results. Scars often fade with time and become barely noticeable. Scar lightening will take several months up to a year after surgery. Scarring tends to be most visible in people with extremely dark skin. Please discuss about scars with your surgeon.
Following potential complaints, risks and complications may occur during burn surgery.
- Bleeding, Infection, Bruising
- Swelling & pain
- Nausea, numbness & itching around wound
- Failed skin graft
In rare case, as with all surgical procedures, a revision surgery may be necessary to correct minor irregularities.
Care after treatment/ surgery
Immediately after the surgery, your surgeon may use dressings, splint to restrict motion and to support natural healing process, minimize bruising and swelling. Following surgeon’s instructions are important to achieve best outcome in terms of functionality and appearance. How long you must remain immobilized and how quickly you resume your normal activities depends on the type and extent of burn surgery and on how fast you heal. Your plastic surgeon may refer you to physiotherapist to assist healing and restore strength.
After you are discharged from hospital, you will see your surgeon in post-surgery follow up sessions during which as well, you will be given more guidance on care, activities etc.
Costs for individual procedures will vary widely based on procedure & hospital chosen for surgery but usually involves following.
- Surgeon’s fee
- Hospital facility charges
- Anesthesia fees
- Medical tests, medicines
- Any post-surgery garments
If revision surgery is needed in a rare case, your surgeon will not charge Surgeon’s fee but other costs will have to be borne by patient as applicable.