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Principles of burn reconstruction: Overview of surgical procedures

Jorge Leon-Villapalos, MD, FRCS
Peter Dziewulski, MD, FRCS
Section Editor
Marc G Jeschke, MD, PhD
Deputy Editor
Kathryn A Collins, MD, PhD, FACS


Following resuscitation and stabilization, management of the burn wounds becomes the next priority. The goals of reconstructive surgery for the burn patient are first to restore function, then to restore esthetic appearances. The later effects of burns, which are related to loss of normal tissue and scarring, include limitation of movement, pain, disfigurement, and social embarrassment [1].

An overview of the surgical techniques used for burn reconstruction is reviewed here. Emergent care of patients with moderate to severe burns and the local topical antimicrobial agents and dressings for burns are discussed elsewhere. (See "Emergency care of moderate and severe thermal burns in adults" and "Emergency care of moderate and severe thermal burns in children" and "Local treatment of burns: Topical antimicrobial agents and dressings".)


There are several challenges related to tissue loss and scarring that must be met in order to reconstruct burns [1]. The key to longer-term local burn care is scar management, which can be achieved through surgery and physical therapy. A balance must be attained between immobilization to allow skin grafts or tissue flaps to heal and mobilization of the burned area to restore function. Successful reconstruction needs to be complemented with the integration of the patient in the multidisciplinary team and specifically with the early intervention of the therapy and rehabilitation teams to restore the patient to society as an active and functional member.

The specific challenges for reconstruction of patients with burns include:

Extensive tissue loss


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Literature review current through: Sep 2016. | This topic last updated: Mar 11, 2015.
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