Burn Scar Treatment

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Burn Scar Treatment With Dr. Steve Lovich, Plastic Surgeon – Serving Medford, Grants Pass and Ashland OR.

Beauty for life
What is a burn scar?
What to expect during your consultation
Scar revision surgery risks and safety information
Preparing for surgery
What happens during scar revision surgery?
Scar revision recovery
Scar revision words to know

Beauty for life

Enhancing your appearance with scar revision surgery

Burn scars are visible signs that remain after a wound has healed. They are unavoidable results of the injury, and their development can be unpredictable. Poor healing may contribute to scars that are obvious, unsightly or disfiguring. Even a wound that heals well can result in a scar that affects your appearance. Scars may be raised or recessed, different in color or texture from surrounding healthy tissue or particularly noticeable due to their size, shape or location.

Your treatment options may vary based on the type and degree of scarring and can include:

  • Simple topical treatments
  • Minimally invasive procedures
  • Surgical revision with advanced techniques in wound closure

Scar revision surgery is meant to minimize the scar so that it is more consistent with your surrounding skin tone and texture.

Although scar revision can provide a more pleasing cosmetic result or improve a scar that has healed poorly, a scar cannot be completely erased.

Is it right for me?

Scar revision is a highly individualized procedure and you should do it for yourself, not to fulfill someone else’s desires or to try to fit any sort of ideal image. Scar revision can be performed on people of any age and is a good option for you if:

  • You are bothered by a scar anywhere on your body
  • You are physically healthy
  • You do not smoke
  • You have a positive outlook and realistic goals for your scar revision surgery
  • You do not have active acne or other skin diseases in the area to be treated

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What is a burn scar?
Scar revision is plastic surgery performed to improve the condition or appearance of a scar anywhere on your body.

Contractures are scars that restrict movement due to skin and underlying tissue that pull together during healing. They can occur when there is a large amount of tissue loss, such as after a burn. Contractures also can form where a wound crosses a joint, restricting movement of the fingers, elbows, knees or neck.

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What to expect during your consultation
The success and safety of your scar revision procedure depends very much on your complete candidness during your consultation. You’ll be asked a number of questions about your health, desires and lifestyle.

Be prepared to discuss & evaluate:

  • Why you want the surgery, your expectations and desired outcome
  • Medical conditions, drug allergies and medical treatments
  • Use of current medications, vitamins, herbal supplements, alcohol, tobacco and drugs
  • Previous surgeries
  • Your general health status and any pre-existing health conditions or risk factors
  • Examine your scar in detail
  • Take photographs for your medical record
  • Discuss your options and recommend a course of treatment
  • Discuss likely outcomes and any risks or potential complications

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Scar revision surgery risks and safety information
The decision to have scar revision surgery is extremely personal and you’ll have to decide if the benefits will achieve your goals and if the risks and potential complications are acceptable. Dr Lovich and/or staff will explain in detail the risks associated with surgery. You will be asked to sign consent forms to ensure that you fully understand the procedure you will undergo, the alternatives and the most likely risks and potential complications.

Some of the risks include:

  • Bleeding (hematoma)
  • Infection
  • Delayed healing
  • Anesthesia risks
  • Change in skin sensation
  • Damage to deeper structures including nerves, blood vessels, muscles and lungs can occur and may be temporary or permanent
  • Allergies to tape, suture materials and glues, blood products, topical preparations or injected agents
  • Skin contour irregularities
  • Skin discoloration and swelling
  • Skin sensitivity
  • Deep vein thrombosis, cardiac and pulmonary complications
  • Pain, which may persist
  • Possibility of revisional surgery or staged procedures

Be sure to ask questions: It’s very important to ask Dr. Lovich questions about your procedure. It’s natural to feel some anxiety, whether it’s excitement for your anticipated new look or a bit of preoperative stress. Don’t be shy about discussing these feelings.

Where will my surgery be performed?

Scar revision surgery may be performed in the office, accredited office-based surgical facility, an ambulatory surgical facility or a hospital. Dr. Lovich and the assisting staff will fully attend to your comfort and safety.

When your procedure is finished, bandages or dressings may be applied to keep the surgical site clean.

You will be given specific instructions that may include: How to care for yourself following surgery, medications to apply or take orally to aid healing and reduce the risk of infection, and when to follow-up at our office.

When you go home

If you experience shortness of breath, chest pains, or unusual heart beats, seek medical attention immediately. Should any of these complications occur, you may require hospitalization and additional treatment.

Be careful

Following instructions is key to the success of your surgery. It is important that the surgical incisions are not subjected to excessive force, abrasion, or motion during the time of healing. Your doctor will give you specific instructions on how to care for yourself.

Follow all postoperative instructions carefully, including cleansing and at-home treatment regimens, and avoid sun exposure. Your cooperation will influence the outcome of your surgery.
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Preparing for surgery

Prior to surgery, you may be asked to:

  • Get lab testing or a medical evaluation
  • Take certain medications or adjust your current medications
  • Stop smoking well in advance of surgery
  • Avoid taking aspirin and certain anti-inflammatory drugs and herbal supplements as they can increase bleeding

Special instructions you receive will cover:

  • What to do on the day of surgery
  • The use of anesthesia during your procedure
  • Post-operative care and follow-up

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What happens during scar revision surgery?
Step 1 –Anesthesia

Medications are administered for your comfort during the surgical procedures. The choices include local anesthesia, intravenous sedation and general anesthesia. Your doctor will recommend the best choice for you.

Step 2 – The treatment

The degree of improvement that can be achieved with scar revision will depend on the severity of your scarring, and the type, size and location of the scar. Dr. Lovich may recommend a combination of scar revision techniques to achieve the best results.

Topical treatments, such as gels, tapes or external compression, can help in wound closure and healing, or to reduce the ability of skin to produce irregular pigment. These products may be used to treat existing surface scars and discoloration, and to aid in healing of scar revision procedures.

Injectable treatments are often used to fill depressed or concave scars. Depending on the injectable substance used and your particular scar conditions, results may last from three months to several years. Therapy must be repeated to maintain results. One form of injection therapy uses steroidal-based compounds to reduce collagen formation and can alter the appearance, size and texture of raised scar tissue.

Surface treatments are most often used for cosmetic improvement of scars. These methods can soften surface irregularities and reduce uneven pigmentation. Surface treatments are a controlled means of either mechanically removing the top layers of skin or changing the nature of tissue.

These treatment options include:

Dermabrasion is a mechanical polishing of the skin.

Laser or light therapy causes changes to the surface of the skin that allow new, healthy skin to form at the scar site.

Chemical peel solutions penetrate the skin’s surface to soften irregularities in texture and color.

Skin bleaching agents are medications applied topically to lighten the skin.

Step 3 – Sometimes for deeper scars an incision is needed to surgically remove the old scar.

Step 4 – Closing the incisions:

Some scars require layered closure. Layered closure is often used where excision extends to tissue below the skin surface or in areas with a high degree of movement. The first step, or layer, requires sub-dermal closure (below the skin surface) with absorbable or non-removable sutures. Layers of closure continue to build, concluding with closure of the remaining surface wound.

Advanced techniques in scar revision include complex flap closure to reposition a scar so that it is less conspicuous, or improve flexibility where contracture has restricted mobility.

Pharmaceutical tiss

ue substitutes may be used if ample healthy tissue is not present for closure of a scar excision. This is more likely with revision of severe burn scars. Tissue expansion can be a substitute for skin grafts. In this procedure, an inflatable balloon called a tissue expander is placed under the skin near the scar site. Over time, the balloon is slowly filled with sterile solution to expand the area of healthy skin. Once the skin has been stretched sufficiently, the expander and the scar is removed and the stretched skin is moved to replace the scar tissue. This process can involve multiple surgical stages or procedures in order to achieve the final results.
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Scar revision recovery
Progress and healing The initial healing phase of a surgical scar revision may include localized swelling, discoloration or discomfort and may take 1 to 2 weeks. Healing will continue for several weeks and as the new scar heals it will slowly refine and fade. With dermabrasion, chemical peel or laser resurfacing, you will experience similar conditions at the treated area, in addition to overall sensitivity.

The results will be long-lasting

The final results of your scar revision surgery will be long-lasting, however it may take several months for your final results to become apparent and in some cases it may take a year for the new scar to fully heal and fade.

The practice of medicine and surgery is not an exact science. Although good results are expected, there is no guarantee, in some situations, it may not be possible to achieve optimal results with a single surgical procedure and another surgery may be necessary.
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Scar revision words to know

  • Chemical peel solutions: Substances that penetrate the skin’s surface to soften irregularities in texture and color.
  • Contractures: Scars that restrict movement due to skin and underlying tissue that pull together during healing and usually occur when there is a large amount of tissue loss, such as after a burn.
  • Dermabrasion: Mechanical polishing of the skin.
  • Excision: Surgical removal of a scar.
  • General anesthesia: Drugs and gases used during an operation to relieve pain and alter consciousness.
  • Hyperpigmented scar: A scar that is darker in color.
  • Hypertropic scar: Thick clusters of scar tissue that develop directly at a wound site.
  • Hypopigmented scar: A scar that is lighter in color.
  • Intravenous sedation: Sedatives administered by injection into a vein to help you relax.
  • Keloids: Large scars that can be painful or itchy, and may also pucker which can occur anywhere on your body, developing more commonly where there is little underlying fatty tissue, such as on the breastbone or shoulders.
  • Laser resurfacing: A method to change to the surface of the skin that allows new, healthy skin to form at the scar site.
  • Light therapy: (Intense Pulsed Light) Pulses of light that can be used to treat discoloration and texture changes of the skin.
  • Local anesthesia: A drug injected directly to the site of an incision during an operation to relieve pain.
  • Skin grafts: Healthy skin taken from other areas of your body, such as the abdomen or thigh, to revise a scar.
  • Tissue expansion: A procedure that can substitute for skin grafts. An inflatable balloon called a tissue expander is placed under the skin near the scar site to stretch additional skin to be used to revise a scar. Oftentimes, multiple procedures are needed.
  • Z-plasty: A surgical technique that creates angled flaps on either side of the original scar site that can completely reposition or change scar direction, interrupt scar tension or improve scar flexibility.

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