Burn wounds are rated high in the ‘worst injuries you can get’ scale. In addition to excruciating pain, severe burn victims may have limited mobility in the affected areas, loss of sensation, or have a cosmetically unappealing look especially if the injury affects the face.
In such cases, plastic surgery is a viable option to repair the damage or make the situation bearable for the victims. Depending on the patient’s goals and the nature of the burn, there are various plastic surgery options for burns with proven results to choose from.
It’s important to understand burn wound treatment. A wound caused by heat or a chemical burn is rated based on the degree of severity, as noted below:
First-Degree or superficial burns are identified by pain, redness, minor swelling and an absence of blistering. Second-Degree burns produce a slight thickness of the skin and may include blistering, indicating damage has been done to the underlying layers of skin. Third-Degree burns feature leathery, waxen skin and are commonly accompanied by numbness due to full damage to the dermis and surrounding nerves. Fourth-degree burns have extended past the skin layers and into the flesh, causing charring and irreparable damage.
Read the full post here: Care for Burn Wounds 101: From Minor to Major Burn Injuries
After being treated and stabilized, the next problem surgeons have to deal with is the scarring. Surgery helps release tight scar tissue after which the surgeon closes the open area using a variety of ways as per the patient’s needs. The common practice for most burn patients is using skin grafts.
Using A Skin Graft for A Burn Wound
Healthy skin is removed from one area of the patient’s body then transplanted to the area with the burn. Depending on the nature of the burns, the grafts may be just a few outer layers of the skin or the entire dermis.
The donor site is usually a hidden area like the inner thighs or the buttocks. Other common plastic surgery options include skin rearrangement and use of skin donor flaps.
This video from the Burn Center at the University of Washington and Harborview Medical Center shows the process for preparing and harvesting skin for a burn victim. As you can see from the thumbnail, it’s a live surgical procedure so if you have a weak stomach, you might want to skip the video:
Since the above video in 2013, there are advancements in the skin grafts, such as developing skin substitutes made up of artificial and natural materials. Unfortunately, none of these engineered skin substitutes are readily available at this time, but there is continued research to find a full thickness skin substitute product that can vascularize rapidly.
Does Insurance Cover A Skin Graft
Reconstructive skin graft surgery cost depends on whether the procedure is being done for medical or cosmetic purposes. In most cases, the surgery is covered by insurance, but be sure to check with a qualified plastic surgeon and your insurance provider before having any procedure carried out.
Most plastic surgery procedures can be performed as outpatient surgery. However, sometimes larger grafts and flaps may require an inpatient stay. On average, these types of procedures normally cost between $4000- $9000. However, depending on the nature, extent, and severity of the burns, the price could be a lot higher.
This article touches on the variables:
The total amount is decided after taking many factors into consideration such as; donor’s fees, the hospitalization charges, medications, surgeons fees, operational charges, post operational charges and consultation fees. The cost of the surgery also depends on the area of the skin graft. If the area of the wound is big, more skin would be needed to cover it up. After the surgery the donor and the receiver both would be kept in the hospital for observation so that doctors can watch out for further post surgery complications.
See more here: How Much Does Skin Graft Surgery Cost
Patients are advised to consider all other available options before going with surgery. For instance, tissue expansion therapy is commonly used as an alternative to surgery. Even though it takes time, this method has been successful in regenerating skin that is almost a perfect match in texture, color, and sensation.
Take the time to find the best Riverside plastic surgeon that will fit your specific needs. Online reviews and referrals from friends are a great start, but calling several doctor’s offices and setting up an appointment to discuss your situation is the next step.