Burns & Scarring

The skin is the largest organ in the human body, apart from its other intricate functions it serves as one of the greatest symbols of one’s identity. Thus, any disruption of this layer immediately changes one’s identity not only to the world, but also to oneself. Burns, therefore, are threats not only to function, but to identity.

Reconstructive burn surgery aims to restore function and identity through the use of various techniques, both surgical and non-surgical. The appearance of the skin is hence improved.

Burns can be classified as:
– acute (immediately occurring)
– and chronic (months to years after the incident).

Acute burns are best managed as soon as they present, as delays may compromise the prognosis and final outcome. The management therein varies with the severity/degree of burns, with some requiring more elaborate reconstructive procedures such as skin grafts, use of bio-medical technologies, and other plastic surgical techniques, over and above non-surgical methods.
Chronic burns often limit function by pulling skin together, such as in burns that occur over the elbow joint where the arm is pulled and limited into a flexed position. These are called contracture deformities and may occur in any part of the body. In such cases, reconstructive surgery is often required to restore parts to their normal position and regain better function.

Apart from functional limitations, chronic burns often manifest with disfiguring scarring. These may be in any configuration (flap, raised, broad, tight band, or even Keloid). Reconstructive surgery techniques employed in removing/revising the scars will thus be dependent on the configuration therein. These may range from borrowing skin from one site of the body and patching another (skin graft), reorientating surrounding skin to cover the removed scar (local flaps), or taking a thicker part of tissue from one site of the body and relocating it to another with it’s own blood supply (micro-surgery free flap procedures).

During a detailed Consultation the procedure, options and shortcomings are discussed after assessment.

Recovery varies considerably depending on the severity and requirements needed. Scar healing can take a short or a long time. It is imperative that you follow the doctor’s post-operative wound care instructions.