After an individual has suffered a blow from fire or chemical burns, they want to know recovery is right around the corner. Their recovery will require special attention and a delicate hand. An experienced plastic surgeon would be the logical professional for this task.
The techniques employed by plastic surgeons can have astounding effects on physical appearances. It’s for this reason that popular culture has painted the plastic surgeon as an extreme beautician. They can scrape away crows feet, tuck in a hanging guts, and re-calibrate the sizes of breasts. But, these assumptions only skim the important need for restoring one’s sense of belonging.
When you’ve been afflicted with a serious wound, you would want the best treatment to get you out and about again. Here are some ways plastic surgery is improving the quality of life for burn victims.
The Center for Disease Control reports 1.1 million burn victims require immediate medical attention each year. Up to 10,000 of those patients die from infections brought on by burn covering 25% of their bodies.
On the positive end, the American Burn Association reports 96.7% surviving burn wounds. However, these individuals will have severe scarring and physical disabilities. All burn inflicted wounds can be prevented through basic fire safety. Even if the individual does the “Stop, Drop, and Roll” technique, check their clothes for any lingering burns. Remove any belt, jewelry, or constricting clothing since wounds swell up almost immediately.
Reconstructive Face Transplantation
Most burn injuries typically occur around the face, scalp, and neck. These injures an be reversed through a face transplant, or Composite Tissue Allograft.
The right candidate for a CTA must be between the age of 18-60, have no histories of HIV, Hepatitis C, or cancer (for five years). Wait times for a perfect tissue donor could be anywhere from a few weeks to several months. Once the surgery is completed, the patient will need to follow rehabilitation procedures, including a regimen of immunosuppression drugs to prevent rejection.
In some extreme cases where fingers, toes, ears, and lips are lost, microsurgery can re-attach them. True to its name, surgeons use microscopes to intricately re-attach severed nerve endings and minute blood vessels.
Microsurgery is often paired with a free flap procedure. This procedure redirects muscle, skin, bone, and blood supply to aid in the reconstruction of the damaged area. In some cases, fatty tissue is used to graft these elements together.
The Healing Phase
As with every post-operation, patients are encouraged to take baby steps towards recovery. The total length will depend on the scope of the surgery. Psychological scars, though, may need all the time in the world.
Emotional support from family and friends goes a long way. There are free programs offered at burn centers that can help survivors re-enter society with renewed confidence. Cognitive behavioral therapy helps people overcome anxiety by understanding their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. This therapy helps relieve negative perceptions of one’s own body. Regular exercise can also improve confidence.