Last month, we shared tips on Summer Fire Safety and burn prevention. It is important that if you or someone you know does experience a burn, to keep calm and assess the severity of the burn. Depending on the severity of the burn, immediate medical care may be necessary.
When a burn to the skin occurs, it causes skin cells to die. The body will produce collagen, a protein that helps heal the damaged skin. When the skin heals, scars form. Scars may be temporary and fade over time, but in some cases, may be permanent.
The following types of scars may occur after a burn:
- Hypertrophic scars are the most common complication of a burn injury. They are often red or purple, and raised. They may feel warm to the touch and itchy and cause one to feel self conscious.
- Keloid scars are raised, hard growths that form when scar tissue grows excessively. Non-surgical and surgical treatment options are available for Keloids (see Keloids).
- Contracture scars tighten the skin, muscles, and tendons. These may affect your ability to move and accomplish everyday tasks.
As mentioned, scarring after a burn causes not only cosmetic defects but may cause physical limitations for some people. To address the physical limitations caused by contracture scars, surgical techniques are often recommended. The standard surgical treatment is to excise or “cut out” all of the damaged tissue. Healthy skin is then removed from one area of the body and transferred to the area where the burn scar was. This procedure can be challenging due to the risk of recurrent contractures after surgery.
Surgeons have found fat grafting to be a promising technique for the treatment of burns, burn scars, and other difficult wounds. During a fat grafting procedure, fat is removed from an area of the body with excess body fat by liposuction (i.e. thighs, belly and buttocks). The fat is then injected into the affected area−in this case, the burn scar. The adipose-derived stem cells found in fat are responsible for promoting dermal regeneration, the process of repairing, restoring, regrowing and replacing tissues within the body. Fat grafting is minimally invasive with little risk.
Dr. Francesco Gargano has recently published his results using fat grafting for burn scars in the article, “Burn scar regeneration with the SUFA (Subcision and Fat Grafting) technique. A prospective clinical study.” The article presents the successful results using this technique, including increased range of motion and dermal regeneration of burn scars. This procedure provides patients relief from physical limitations associated with contracture scars, making it easier to complete everyday activities. The full article can be accessed here if you are interested in learning more.
If you are someone you know is seeking treatment for burn scars, call The Institute for Advanced Reconstruction to see how our specialists may be able to help.