Types of Burns – First Aid, Treatment & Burn Repair Surgery


My name is Ioannis Goutos, I’m a
consultant plastic surgeon and both my NHS and private practice is based in London. My areas of expertise include burn care, scar management as well as
body contouring if you would like to arrange a consultation please feel free
to get in touch. The most popular classification for burn
is the one that relates to the degree of damage to the dermis which is the second layer of the skin. A superficial partial thickness burn is typically blistered,
weepy and painful and most of those burns tend to heal within two weeks with
dressings. A deep partial thickness burn has a drier appearance is less weepy and
less painful given that more blood vessels and nerves have been destroyed
during the burn injury. A proportion of deep partial thickness burns will need
an operation in order to ensure prompt healing. Full thickness burns are the
most severe degrees that we find in clinical practice where the entirety of
the skin has been burned. They tend to have a dry, waxy, leathery appearance and
the overwhelming majority of them need to be treated with an operation apart from the very small ones. The administration of appropriate first
aid following a burn is of paramount importance in order to prevent further
damage within the wound and improve its healing potential. Most specialists would
recommend the following steps. A) Stop the burning process. B) Remove any loose
clothing and jewelry from the affected area. C) Cool the burn down by using
running water for 20 minutes whilst maintaining the rest of the body warm. D) Cover the wound with cling film or a clean cloth and E) Seek appropriate
medical attention. The healing time for burn injuries
depends on a number of factors including the extent, the depth, the location as
well as the underlying mechanism of injury If we look at superficial partial
thickness burns these tend to heal within two weeks and most of any in an
uneventful manner. If we look up deep partial thickness and full thickness
burns they will take longer than two weeks to heal and very frequently we
intervene with a skin graft procedure in order to ensure optimal healing. What we know from the latest research is that when it comes to burns healing every day
counts. In other words the quicker the burn heals the lower the risk for
unfavorable scarring this makes prompt assessment and management by a
specialist burns consultant imperative in order to achieve the best possible
outcome. Burns can be very traumatic experiences
leaving behind significant scarring. Surgery may be indicated in order to
optimize wound healing and contribute to a better scar quality. Burn repair
surgery can be divided into acute which is performed immediately after the burn
injury or reconstructive which aims to resurface existing scars. There are a variety of options that are
available when it comes to burn surgery. When we look at acute burn surgery one
of the commonest operation is a skin graft. This involves the transfer of healthy layers of the skin onto the clean burn
wound in order to speed up healing. Occasionally we use flops these are
units of tissue that are transferred from one place to the other
in order to cover defects. We’re also privileged to be able to use what we
call dermal templates in burn surgery these are collagen based sheets of
animal origin that can be placed onto the wound before a skin graft achieves
wound healing. There is also emerging technology involving spray skin cells
that are aimed to regenerate the epidermis which is the top layer of the
skin.

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