Our Guide to Skin Grafting for Treating Severe Burn Injuries
Treating severe burn injuries can be catastrophic not just for the body but for the mind, too. Treating severe burn injuries can be incredibly painful and often leave scarring, even disfigurement, that affect survivors’ quality of life and self-esteem. Injuries are often so critical that some survivors may not fully recover.
Luckily, scientists have developed treatments that heal deep burns and restore normalcy in burn victims’ lives. One of the most common treatments is skin grafting, a procedure that removes skin from one part of the body and transplants it into the affected area. This is a popular way to treat severe burns and other conditions or injuries that have caused the patient to lose an area of protective skin.
Here is our quick guide to skin grafting and how it helps treat severe burn injuries:
Two Kinds of Skin Grafts
Skin grafts come in two different procedures to treat a variety of deep burns. The first one is the split-thickness skin graft. This is a graft that removes the skin’s top layer, along with a portion of the dermis. Surgeons usually take these skin layers from fleshy areas, like the thigh, buttocks, back, or abdomen.
This skin graft type is used for treating more expansive areas. However, these are often delicate and have a shiny appearance, and are typically lighter colored than the rest of the skin. Given the fragile nature of this skin graft, they have more difficulty growing on ungrafted skin. If the patient receiving this treatment is a child, they will need more grafts over months or years.
Meanwhile, the second type of skin graft is a full-thickness skin graft. As the name implies, this procedure removes both the full dermis and epidermis from the groin, collarbone, forearm, or abdomen. Given the smaller nature of the donor sites, the removed pieces are much smaller and are usually transplanted to areas that are most visible on the body, like the face. Full-thickness skin grafts grow and blend easier with the surrounding skin, restoring the burned area to a more natural appearance.
Recovering From a Skin Graft
Skin graft treatments consist of multiple different steps. While the patient remains under general anesthesia throughout the entire process, recovering from surgery and caring for the donor and transplanted sites can be painful.
Once doctors complete the procedure, a patient should stay at the hospital for a few more days to ensure a smooth healing process for affected sites. During this period, the hospital staff will continuously monitor the patient’s vitals and administer medication to alleviate the pain. Doctors will also be on standby for any potential complications that occur during the recovery period.
Sometimes, the burned areas reject skin grafts. The absence of blood vessels in the transplant areas thirty-six hours after surgery reveals this. Rejection can happen for multiple reasons; for example, there may be too much blood or fluid beneath the graft, making it difficult for the transplant area to take to the graft. If this occurs, then another surgery is necessary to apply the new graft.
Treating Severe Burn Injuries – Conclusion
Sustaining a burn injury from an incident is incredibly painful. Treating it may include several surgeries and managing the pain with medication. Fortunately, recovery is possible with skin grafting. With proper surgery and successful aftercare, healing from a severe burn will help patients return to their lives with as minimal pain as possible.
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