Burn injuries are some of the most painful and complicated injuries one can face. Over 40,000 victims are treated for burn injuries every year according to the American Burn Association.
Unfortunately, they are also one of the most expensive injuries to treat. A severe burn that covers 30% of total body area can cost between $100,000 and $700,000 in hospital and doctorís fees. In general, the more severe a burn is, the longer it will take to fully recover.
There are three degrees of burn injuries: First-degree burns usually involve minor tissue damage and only involve the epidermis of the skin. These burns may be red, swollen and painful but will usually heal with minimal treatment. Second-degree burns involve both the epidermis and the underlying skin known as the dermis. These burns are usually deeper and cover a larger surface area causing blisters to form. If not properly treated, a second-degree burn can progress into a third-degree burn. Victims with second-degree burns need to seek immediate medical attention and recovery time is usually prolonged. Third-degree burns are the most severe burn injury because they affect the epidermis, dermis and the hypodermis underneath.
Many times, these burns are numb due to the extensive nerve and tissue loss. Healing is usually very slow and recovery is extensive. In general, third-degree burns will usually leave behind extensive scarring and skin grafts and surgeries may be needed.
If a burn injury is severe, fatal complications may occur including shock, infection and respiratory distress. Burns that cover large surface areas or that is unusually deep may even result in death.
In addition to the physical dangers associated with burn injuries, many burn victims also find themselves dealing with psychological and emotional trauma. In severe cases, burn injuries may not be able to heal appropriately on their own. In this situation, a plastic surgeon may need to perform a skin graft to close the wound and reconfigure the affected area.
A skin graft is a procedure that takes a piece of healthy skin from one area of the body and transplants it to the affected area. After a skin graft is performed, the victim will begin the long and arduous process of trying to heal. Recovery after a skin graft can be anywhere from 6 weeks to several months. Unfortunately, not all skin grafts are successful. Some may require additional surgeries to stimulate new blood vessel growth. Burns can occur anywhere and to anyone. They can occur on the job, or in the comfort of your own home. Burn injuries can occur from explosions, open flames, steam, hot water, electrical currents and even through radiation exposure.
If you have been involved in a serious accident or injury involving burns and/or skin grafts we would like to be a resource for you.