HealthFrom Injury to Renewal: The Role of Plastic Surgery...

From Injury to Renewal: The Role of Plastic Surgery in Wound Recovery

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Wound healing can be accelerated by following your plastic surgeon’s post-operative instructions. Regular exercise, drinking plenty of water and avoiding smoking are important, too.

Wound healing is a complex process that includes the hemostatic, inflammatory & proliferative phases. It can also be impacted by systemic and local factors such as:

Burns

A burn is any injury to the skin that causes pain, redness, swelling, and blisters. It is important to keep the injured area clean and not break any fluid-filled blisters as they protect against infection.

Third-degree burns, or full-thickness burns, damage the top layers of the skin and can extend down into underlying tissue such as muscle and bone. They can be life-threatening if they are not treated quickly. They are usually treated with graft surgery under general anesthesia, where healthy skin from another part of the body is placed over the wound.

All burns carry a risk for infections because bacteria can enter broken skin. Tetanus is a particular risk with full-thickness burns, so everyone should have a tetanus shot that is up to date. Infections that do not respond to antibiotics can be serious, so always notify your doctor of new signs of redness or warmth or increased pain and swelling of the burned area.

Lacerations

Lacerations are open wounds caused by blunt force trauma to the skin. They can range from small tears with jagged edges to large gashes that expose underlying muscle and tissue.

Laceration treatment focuses on eliminating infection and reducing scarring. The first step is stopping the bleeding, called hemostasis. Continuous pressure with sterile gauze can help achieve this. The wound is then cleaned to remove dirt and bacteria. Antibiotic ointment is then applied. For most cuts, a self-sticking bandage can hold the dressing. This should be changed daily to promote healing and prevent infection.

A suture is needed to close the laceration if the wound has jagged edges. Plastic surgeons often use this method for facial lacerations to minimize scarring and allow the wound to heal properly. The procedure is performed under local anesthesia to avoid distorting the surrounding tissues. Plastic surgeons like Dr. Joel Aronowitz may use a subcuticular running suture in a mirror-image pattern to ensure the wound edges align and close appropriately for complex lacerations.

Scars

Scars are the body’s natural response to injury and healing. Most wounds result in scarring, but the extent and type of scar depends on how the injury is treated. For example, rubbing alcohol and hydrogen peroxide should never be used to clean a wound because they can increase inflammation and kill healthy skin tissue, which is important for healing.

A normal scar will usually form a flat, pale mark that blends into the surrounding skin tone. However, a spot can also be raised or lumpy (hypertrophic and keloid scars) and darker than the surrounding skin (keloids are thick scar tissue).

Several treatments can minimize the appearance of a traumatic scar. These include physical therapy, pressure and various scar camouflage products, including silicone gel sheets that can be worn 12-24 hours daily. It is best to consult with a plastic surgeon, dermatologist or wound care specialist for more information about treatment options for your specific needs.

Reconstructive Surgery

Reconstructive surgery is often best for patients with limb injuries that leave large open wounds and damaged blood vessels or nerves. Plastic surgeons, including Joel Aronowitz MD,  can use advanced techniques to help cover important structures and prevent further complications.

Their reconstructive procedures involve reshaping body parts to correct several issues, including congenital disabilities, developmental abnormalities, trauma/injuries and medical conditions like cancer. They use powerful techniques, including skin grafts and more complex tissue donor flaps (like advancement or rotational flaps), to move healthy tissue from one body area to another.

These procedures can also treat wound contractures, which form when tight scar tissue pulls on a joint or other body area. This can make it difficult for the wound to heal properly and may cause pain or discomfort. Pre-surgical counseling to explain options and the risks of various reconstructive surgery methods helps patients decide what is right for them.

 

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