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Arch Plast Surg. 2013 Sep;40(5):510-6. doi: 10.5999/aps.2013.40.5.510. Epub 2013 Sep 13.

Proposed treatment protocol for frostbite: a retrospective analysis of 17 cases based on a 3-year single-institution experience.

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Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Hallym University Hangang Sacred Heart Hospital, Hallym University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.



This paper discusses the treatment protocol for patients with frostbite.


We performed a retrospective analysis of a series of 17 patients with second- and higher-degree frostbite who had been treated at our medical institution between 2010 and 2012.


Our clinical series of patients (n=17) included 13 men and four women, whose mean age was 42.4±11.6 years (range, 22-67 years). The sites of injury include the foot in six patients (35.3%), the hand in six patients (35.3%) and the facial region in five patients (29.4%). Seven patients with second-degree frostbite were completely cured with only conservative treatment during a mean period of 12.7±3.3 days (range, 8-16 days). Of the five patients with third-degree frostbite, two underwent skin grafting following debridement, and the remaining three achieved a complete cure with conservative treatment during a mean period of 35±4.3 days (range, 29-39 days). Five patients with fourth-degree frostbite were treated with surgical procedures including amputation.


With the appropriate conservative management in the early stage of onset, surgeons should decide on surgery after waiting for a sufficient period of time until the demarcation of the wound. Continuous management of patients is also needed to achieve functional recovery after a complete cure has been achieved. This should also be accompanied by patient education for the avoidance of re-exposure to cold environments.


Frostbite; Operative surgical procedure; Therapy

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