If you have suffered some sort of trauma to the skin, you may need to see a plastic surgeon for reconstructive procedures known as wound care. These techniques can help minimize the aesthetic defects caused by injury and promote optimal healing.
Who Should Get Wound Care?
When deciding how to treat your wound, a plastic surgeon must carefully assess it and ask:
- Is skin missing?
- Have nerves or muscles been damaged?
- Has skeletal support been affected?
Direct closure is usually performed on skin-surface wounds that have straight edges, such as a simple cut. Maximum attention is given to the aesthetic result, taking extra care to minimize noticeable stitch marks.
What Does Wound Care Do?
A wound that is wide and difficult or impossible to close directly may be treated with one of three types of skin grafts. A skin graft is basically a patch of healthy skin that is taken from one area of the body, called the “donor site,” and used to cover another area where skin is missing or damaged.
Tissue expansion is a procedure that enables the body to “grow” extra skin by stretching adjacent tissue. A balloon-like device called an expander is inserted under the skin near the area to be repaired and then gradually filled with salt water over time, causing the skin to stretch and grow.
Though success will largely depend on the extent of a patient’s injury, flap surgery and microsurgery have vastly improved a plastic surgeon’s ability to help a severely injured or disfigured patient. Plastic surgeons can now replant amputated fingers or transplant large sections of tissue, muscle or bone from one area of the body to another with the original blood supply in tact.
A flap is a section of living tissue that carries its own blood supply and is moved from one area of the body to another. Flap surgery can restore form and function to areas of the body that have lost skin, fat, muscle movement, and/or skeletal support.
After Wound Care: What Should I Expect?
Following your wound care surgery, your wound will be closed with incisions and covered with a protective dressing. You may experience swelling and discomfort at the site, but may be prescribed medication to manage pain. The length of recovery depends largely on the severity of your wound.
We encourage you to call or email the office of plastic surgeon Beth Collins MD in Guilford to learn more about wound care and schedule a consultation.