Reconstructive Burn Surgery

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Reconstructive burn surgery is a surgical procedure that may be needed when initial burn wounds have healed. This procedure aims to improve both function and cosmetic appearance of burn scars.

What is it?

Reconstructive burn surgery is a procedure performed by a plastic surgeon after the initial wounds from a burn have healed. The goal of the surgery is to increase the function and restore the appearance of the skin. Some of these procedures involve several months of preparations to improve scarred tissue. This surgery is chosen by patients experiencing negative long term effects from burns, functionally or aesthetically.

What should I do to prepare?

Before reconstructive burn surgery, doctors and patients will discuss any allergies and medications the patient will be taking in the weeks prior to surgery. The doctor commonly asks the patient to quit smoking, to take vitamins, and to adjust medication plans before surgery. Lastly, the patient should make transportation accommodations to and from surgery and will need assistance around the house following surgery.

 What happens during the process?

This process can be both operative and non-operative. Some treatments include scar massage, application of pressure garments, or topical therapies. The operative techniques generally include scar release procedures, where scars are opened and then repaired by a plastic surgeon. Some of these plastic surgery techniques require skin grafts. In general, the procedure is outpatient, but more intense skin graft treatments may require a hospital stay.

What are the risks and potential complications?

Reconstructive burn surgery risks and complications, include, but are not limited to:

  • Undesirable scarring
  • Pain development
  • Infection
  • Skin graft rejection
  • Loss of normal feeling in the location of treatment


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