Burn Surgery Before and After

May 15, 2012

Burn surgery is used to replace skin which is lost due to severe burn injury. Lots of people get burned due to accidents and even deliberately. Some burns can be minor, with the skin turning red and tender for a couple of days (for example from touching a hot kettle). Third degree burns are very severe and can be very painful. They will remove skin and can also cost lives. These can happen in workplace accidents, lighting a cigarette whilst the gas is leaking or being asleep while the house is on fire.

Being burned is not a pleasant experience at all. It’s not like getting sunburn and using aloe vera to make it better. Sometimes patients can lose their skin altogether or lose limbs. Plastic surgery can help victims in several ways. If the skin needs replacing, this can be done using skin grafts, free flap or tissue expansion. Of course, the replaced tissue will never look the same as your old skin, but at least you will have this vital organ again. If the patient has lost a finger, ear, toe or even their lips then microsurgery may be used to sew it back in place.

Before and after photo

Before and After Photo: Burn Surgery #1

Patient #1

This child Amy suffered numerous burns to the front of her body and required immediate attention. The surgeons at her local hospital recommended a new kind of treatment which is a spray-on skin treatment (skin cells spray to create a new layer of skin). The results are amazing and Amy now has wonderful new skin. The after photo was taken many months later.

Before and After Photo: Burn Surgery #2

Patient #2

Nicolas suffered third degree burns to his head from an accident at home. Luckily he got quick treatment at a nearby hospital where the surgeons performed almost immediate surgery. He was very luck the burns weren’t much worse. The after photo was taken many weeks later and Nickolas is now recovering well.

Different types of burn surgeries

There are various burn surgeries out there and a burn patient has the opportunity to chose out of the few. Age and the severity of the burn injuries are the two main factors which affect the choice a doctor will recommend you. Surgery is either performed immediately after some is burned or further down the track during a patients rehabilitation.

Reconstruction and amputation

Sometimes there is no other choice than to amputate someones hand, arm, leg or foot in severe cases. The factors which play a major role here is the depth and extent of the burn injury as well as the bodies ability to respond to previous surgeries.

Plastic surgery (including w-plasty & z-plasty)

This is usually done when there is no other choice and is not an elective surgery for a patient. Scar treatment includes z-plasty and w-plasty.

Surgical skin planning & dermabrasion

Widely used all over the world and has a history of over 100 years in the medical field. Dermabrasion includes either a laser, diamond wheel or sterile wire brush to get rid of raised scars. Scars are hard if not impossible to completely get rid of especially burn scars but you can make them look better through surgery. Dermabrasion has been used successfully by dermatological surgeons to improve the look of scars. Cosmetic and plastic surgeons also practice dermatology but if you are insured you will be deferred to a special surgeon by your insurer.

More burn surgery before and after photos >>>>

Xenografts, skin substitutes and skin grafts

Permanent skin grafts are recommended for survivors of burns who have partial thickness deep burns or full thickness burns. These promote healing and minimize the risk of scarring. Considering the extent of the injury a patient could require many skin grafts during a single hospital stay to achieve the desired results. These grafts use donor sites (skin from other parts of the persons body). If a donor site is used then that site will also require treatment to minimalize the risk of scarring. If a permanent skin graft is used the patient will need to undergo at least 5 days of immobilization, this is where blood vessels begin to grow back to the new tissue.

Temporary skin grafts give a patient a temporary cover for the burnt skin to provide pain relief, help protect skin from more damage and preserve sterility. They are sometimes combined with another procedure called xenografting. Xenografting is a medical product made of pig skin which is used to provide temporary cover.

Cleaning a wound & debridment

If a burn injury is serious, more times than not a burn victim will undergo a procedure named debridment before other surgeries. This involves removing infected or dead skin cells while cleaning the area.

Sadly most serious burn victims who need to undergo hospitalization are young children and because they will still grow during their lives they may require further surgeries to correct scars.

Before the procedure

The day of the surgery – Depending on the dietary restrictions your doctors have placed you on you should follow these as best as you can, this may include not eating the day of the surgery as well as not drinking water (crazy right, but it’s got to be done for best results). Ask a good friend or family member to help take you to the hospital on the day, make sure you wear very comfortable loose clothing. Avoid wearing all type of creams, makeup, piercing, rings or anything that may obstruct the surgeons from doing their job like jewelry. Your physician may ask you to apply an ointment to your skin prior to the surgery but do not do this unless he/she has asked you to do so. A doctor may tell you to clean your skin or area being treated with a scent free soap so that it’s ready for surgery.

The night before surgery – You will be asked to stop eating the night before surgery if you will be required to undergo some type of anesthesia, usually the time we are talking about here is half a day before surgery; again don’t go starving yourself the day before unless you are asked to do so by your surgeon. If general anesthesia won’t be used you may eat anything you wish as well as drinking anything.

The week before surgery – Here you may be given some special instructions by your surgeon on how to best prepare your body for the operation. Generally the instructions include stopping taking blood thinning medication such as aspirin and ibuprofen, not drinking any alcohol at all and quitting smoking. Not following these instructions will make your body heal a lot longer after the surgery if not inhibit it totally. You may also be prescribed a special ointment by your physician to help prepare the tissue for surgery.


As with any type of surgery complication can occur with the worst one being death but this is rare. Each individual heals differently and a surgeries outcome is never exactly predictable. General risks include infection, allergy to anesthesia, excessive bleeding, would healing difficulties and bruising. It’s important to be realistic of the outcome of any surgery and you should discuss this with your treating surgeon. If you are a smoker you are considered to be at higher risk because the healing process will be delayed and it may cause further complications. If you have a connective tissue disease, have areas of damages skin from radiation therapy or decreased circulation to the surgical site you will also be at a higher risk. Generally the most complications can arise when reconstructive burn surgery is performed. You should work toward improving your nutrition and circulation prior to surgery, ask your doctor on how you can improve these.

Recovery time

Depending on the extent of your surgery it’s safe to assume the average recovery time for burn surgery is several weeks not including scars. Scars can take months to heal and will take many years to fully heal.

After the procedure

After burn surgery have someone drive you home once you have been discharged from the hospital as you should not do this by yourself because of the medication you have been given and also because you will be feeling giddy and exhausted so it’s best left up to someone else. Depending on the extent of your surgery you will be given set times or a timetable of when the bandages should come off, when to stop taking antibiotic medication and other prescriptions, when to come in for a check up, when you can shower and bathe or when to stop taking sponge baths. If an infection comes up you should see a doctor as soon as possible about it so they can treat it or you run the risk of an amputation or severe scarring. You will be exhausted when you get home and the best thing for you to do would be to get some rest. Lay down or sleep for long periods during the first few weeks but be sure you will be able to still sleep at night time. If you can go for regular (at least 30 minutes to an hour a day) walks to improve your blood circulation and promote healing. Do not pick at your scars or scabs as this can make the scar permanent and you don’t want that. Take ibuprofen if pain persists and be sure to see a doctor about organizing more pain medication if you run out, they will be more than happy to help you out. Also be sure to drink plenty of clean water to assist the healing process.


The cost of burn surgery is generally covered by insurance. If you are not covered by insurance then depending on the extent of your injuries and burns you may be liable to pay into the tens of thousand of dollars. It would be good to go see a surgeon at your local hospital to get a quote as soon as possible so at least you have an idea at what you’re up against.


I suffered second degree burns to my hand when working for KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken) when I was younger. Although I didn’t require surgery (I’m glad I didn’t) it did look disgusting and took a long time to heal. My hand fully recovered and you can’t even notice that I was burnt. I dropped the chicken in the pressure cooker and the oil was bubbling really high and I hesitated for a few seconds, then my manager told me to close it and when I did the oil pissed all over my arm. I took a few weeks off work and was paid for it. I was just looking up some other burn photos of victims and realized my encounter with burns is a joke. It’s good to see people recovering well though. It’s amazing how well the doctors can treat such conditions. All I needed was some cream and to leave the wound alone for a few weeks while it was wrapped in gauze. If you’re a burn victim stay strong guys and gals. The worst things happen to the best of us.

Submitted by Ryan on May 15, 2012

YouTube video

This YouTube video is a featurette by the Florida Department of Health and is about burn surgery to the hand and foot. It is intended for the use of educational purposes only and is funded by the department. In the burn center they show in the operating room how the procedure is performed. This video is made for adults only as there is some raw flesh and blood exposed that is not suitable for minors. Unfortunately there is no after photo or picture of the results the surgeons had but you know they are in good hands and the patient is recovering well.

More before and after photos

Before and After Photo: Burn Surgery #3

Patient #3

Lauren suffered major third and second degree burns to her back at an accident at school. She was taken to a hospital immediately and was treated by surgeons. The surgeons did the best they could and she is now recovery well. The after photo was taken many months later.

 Before and After Photo: Burn Surgery #4

Patient #4

Maribelle suffered a horrendous accident at work where acid was spilled on her face and lower body. She went into a coma for a week and woke up after treatment. The operation required reconstructive surgery. Her surgeons did a great job as you can see in the after photo which was taken over a year later. Maribelle is happy and thankful to her treating doctors and is recovering well at home.

 Before and After Photo: Burn Surgery #5

Patient #5

Martha had an accident at work where catalyst was spilled on her hand and she didn’t wipe it off quickly enough. The surgery was a success with the after photo being taken several months after treatment.

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