Advanced Burn Reconstruction

Deeper burns (second degree) and full-thickness burns (third degree) require acute burn care in a hospital setting. Damaged areas of the skin are removed, and a skin graft taken from the thighs, flanks, or back is used to resurface the affected regions. Secondary burn reconstruction can be used to heal scarring and enhance function, with special care taken to ensure an aesthetically pleasing outcome. It is our goal at The LaVie Institute to create a natural-looking final appearance with as much function restored as possible.

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Why Choose The LaVie Institute of Plastic Surgery?

The LaVie Institute is connected to the Inpatient Burn Program at the Swedish Medical Center as well as their Outpatient Burn and Reconstructive Clinic (a Level 1 Trauma Center). LaVie is a verified burn center through the American Burn Association, ensuring the highest levels of excellence in treating those with acute burns and those who require improved form and function after a burn injury. What sets LaVie apart is that we integrate our reconstructive services from the start of your burn injury care, ensuring continuity and superior outcomes. Clients enjoy access to a wide range of cutting-edge treatment modalities and state-of-the-art technology under the care of our four board-certified plastic and reconstructive surgeons. Our compassionate, patient-centric approach sets patients immediately at ease as they traverse the road toward achieving their unique reconstruction goals. Through precision, meticulous attention to detail, and a willingness to go to any lengths for our clients, The LaVie Institute exceeds expectations at every stage of the reconstruction journey. 

What is Burn Reconstruction?

The two main categories of burn surgery include acute care and reconstructive care. Acute burn care takes place directly after the injury or accident. Complex burns may require the expertise of plastic surgeons who assist with case management to ensure an aesthetically viable outcome. Large burns and burns that have formed in critical regions of the body are addressed via the Burn Program at the Swedish Medical Center.

After the burn wounds have healed, reconstructive techniques can be performed by a plastic surgeon to improve the function and cosmetics of the affected areas. This may involve revising the scar tissue and can call for both surgical and non-surgical modalities. A reconstructive burn surgeon may work with the client for many years to achieve the ideal outcome, so it is essential that this relationship is supportive, caring, and reliable.

What are the Benefits of Reconstructive Burn Surgery?

While no surgery can ever completely erase a scar, the procedure can help to make scarring less noticeable and provide the client with improved function and comfort. Surgery to release scar contractures, for instance, can help extend range of motion and thus enhance quality of life and the ability to work and socialize. 

For facial scarring that has affected the lips, ears, eyelids, nose, or hairline, reconstructive surgery can help the patient regain a sense of normalcy and self-confidence. Scar revision can help to address scars that are abnormally wide, thick, or discolored.

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What Are the Treatment Options?

Non-surgical treatment options include laser therapy, scar massage, topical creams, and pressure garments. Surgical techniques may include scar release procedures, skin grafts, Z-plasty, and the creation of donor flaps. Our team will curate a personalized treatment plan that addresses the unique location and extent of your burns. During your private consultation, we will explain your options in depth, providing a detailed overview so that you can form realistic expectations for your outcome.

Skin Grafts

Skin grafts are an excellent option for closing wider wounds. Here, a section of healthy skin tissue is harvested from another area of the body (the “donor site”) and transferred to the damaged area. These grafts may be one of three types: a split-thickness graft, a full-thickness graft, and a composite graft. The choice will depend on the depth and width of the wound.

Bone Grafts

If a bone needs replacement, grafting can be performed to mitigate the loss. Bones can be replaced with artificial, synthetic, or natural compounds. Ideally, bone grafts are taken from the patient’s own body, such as from the iliac crest or the pelvis. In these cases, it is unlikely that the patient’s body will reject the graft. New bones slowly grow and replace the graft material over time.

Tissue Expansion

Tissue expansion is a process that stimulates the body to produce new tissue for use in reconstructive procedures. A silicone balloon expander is inserted beneath the skin near the damaged region. The balloon is slowly filled with fluid, stretching the skin and enabling it to grow. This is a common technique used during breast reconstruction but can also be used for burn repair.

Flap Surgery

With this approach, a flap of tissue, fat, and sometimes muscle is harvested from a donor region such as the stomach, back, thighs, or buttocks. The flap can remain connected to its original blood supply or can be reattached to blood vessels in its new location using microsurgery. Flap surgery is among the most complex techniques used during burn reconstruction, as scarring will be present at both the treatment site and the donor regions.

Microvascular Surgery

Microvascular surgery allows the surgeon to reattach transplanted tissue, muscle, or bone to a new blood supply. This technique requires extensive training and skill, and our board-certified reconstructive surgeons at The LaVie Institute have the clinical acumen to perform microsurgery as part of your comprehensive burn repair treatment.

Laser Therapy for Burn Scars

Laser treatment can help to fade thick, raised scars (hypertrophic scars) that interfere with optimal function and movement. Laser therapy can also relieve the emotional distress of contending with a scar in a highly visible area of the body, such as on the face or neck. Finally, laser energy can help lessen itching and discomfort.

After Surgery

In order to obtain the best results possible, patients must take care to carefully follow their surgeon’s post-op instructions and attend all scheduled follow-up visits. Our team will be on hand to answer any questions and ensure your recovery process is seamless. 

In general, skin grafts will require a specialized dressing worn for 3-5 days to restrict graft movement and help the skin to “stick”. Scar revisions and Z-plasties may also require dressings, albeit smaller ones. Patients are seen within 2 weeks, at which time sutures may be removed. 

Most clients will require ongoing physical therapy in the weeks and months following reconstruction. It is imperative that the patient perform their prescribed exercises to enhance and maintain function at home. 

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