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Clin Plast Surg. 2002 Jan;29(1):29-51.

Skin resurfacing for the burned patient.

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Division of Plastic, Reconstructive, and Hand Surgery, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, Ohio, USA.


It has been estimated that 2 million people per year have burns requiring medical attention in the United States. The available and expert clinicians in dedicated burn centers around the country have cared successfully for these patients and given them a second chance at a functional life. It still behooves current-day plastic surgeons to be knowledgeable and adept in their care, not only because they may be called upon at times to manage some of the smaller acute burns, but also because many of the general principles of burn reconstruction and wound management are relevant to other areas of general plastic surgery. Acute burns should be dealt with like any other major trauma with the ABCs of aggressive resuscitation and airway management. Like any other wound, debridement and nutrition are important (i.e., early escharectomy of the burn wound and enteral nutrition during the hypermetabolic state). Early coverage of the open wound is essential to limit bacterial colonization and prevent infection and to reduce fluid and electrolyte and heat loss. If autografts are not available immediately, temporary coverage with one of the above-mentioned barrier materials should be used. Still, autografts, when available, should be the burn surgeon's first choice. Donor sites may be reharvested to provide more autograft than was anticipated with large-percentage TBSA burns. Physicians should keep in mind the advantages (and disadvantages) of using the scalp and back. As far as research and technological advances in the area of plastic surgery, burn surgery may be the most progressive, with the evolution of biologic tissue-engineered skin substitutes and the research of growth factors in healing. Further improvements in tissue engineering and technology should result in even more effective skin substitutes and hence better functional and aesthetic outcomes with economic efficiency in large burns.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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