Burn reconstruction is emotionally and physically demanding for burn victims and their families. After suffering a burn, the patient has to endure the arduous process of wound care and surgical treatment. It may be a small area or life threatening. A superficial burn that heals within ten days to two weeks most likely will heal with proper wound care and not create any burn scar. Deeper burns (deep second degree) and full thickness burns (third degree) will require surgical care in a hospital Burn Unit. Usually, the deeply burned areas are surgically removed and a split thickness skin graft is placed to resurface those burned areas. The skin graft is usually taken from any unburned areas (such as the thigh, buttocks, back, etc) as needed to provide adequate skin resurfacing .
Secondary burn reconstruction, which is to treat healed burn scars, is also difficult to do well. Many different surgical techniques and approaches are used to restore movement and function of any part of the body that has been affected by the burns. It is equally important to restore aesthetic features of the face and body.
To restore as much as possible a person’s body function and natural appearance from severe burn injuries is one of the most challenging for a plastic surgeon. I have performed many burn reconstruction operations over my 14 years in practice. Replacing the stiff and tight burn scars and the irregular unnatural appearance of a meshed split thickness skin graft is important to restoring function. Replacing as much of these burn scars with expanded normal skin (with tissue expanders) and full thickness skin grafts will help restore body function, such as stiff joints, and a more natural appearance of the face and body.