A severe wound may result in limited ranges of mobility, sensation loss, and an unattractive appearance. Fortunately, these can be fixed, at least to some extent, with plastic surgery.
Wounds that are too extensively damaged require a procedure called debriding – which means removing the dead tissue to prepare for reconstructive surgery. After that, your doctor may recommend one of the following:
In a skin grafting procedure, a surgeon removes skin from one part of the body and transplant it to a damaged part that has previously lost its protective layer due to burns or injuries. Skin grafts need to be done in the hospital. Patients are put under anesthesia, meaning they will be unconscious during the surgery.
Skin grafts take weeks of preparation. You should inform your doctor of any medication you are using. Some types of drugs may disrupt the body’s mechanism of forming blood clots (aspirin, for example). You may need to adjust or completely stop those drugs before a skin drafting procedure. Besides, tobacco consumption may slow down your healing speed. So, you will need to stop smoking for a while before your surgery.
A detached finger, ear, or lip can be re-attached with microsurgery. During this procedure, a surgeon uses a microscope to sew tiny blood vessels or nerves together, re-connecting the damaged nerves and arteries. Microsurgery may be used in combination with other surgical procedures such as the free flap procedure.
Free flap procedure
During a free flap procedure, a surgeon removes the muscle, skin, or bone with the original blood supply from one part of the body to the surgical site to reconstruct the area. This procedure often requires the use of microsurgery. It takes time for a free flap procedure to heal properly. You may need up to 8 weeks or longer to fully recover.
Tissue expansion allows your body to grow extra skin that can be used in surgical reconstruction. A surgeon will insert a small tool called a balloon expander under the affected skin area. This balloon gradually absorbs salt water and stretches the skin around it, encouraging it to grow. The working mechanism is quite similar to the stretching belly of a pregnant woman. Once the patient has grown enough skin, the skin may be used to correct the wound.
Tissue expansion provides skin that is close in color and texture to the wound area. Also, it does not leave extensive scarring because the skin is not taken from different areas. However, tissue expansion lasts quite long, possibly up to 4 months. Also, during the time the patient waits for the skin to grow, the balloon may create a bulge under the skin. While this bulge doesn’t matter in the cases of breast reconstruction, people who use the procedure to repair their scalp may find this bulge unsightly.
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