What is the body’s largest organ? It’s not the liver, or the stomach…it’s the skin. The entire outer layer of the human body is skin, designed to regulate body temperature, maintain fluid balance, ward off dirt and germs, protect internal organs and thwart infection. Our five senses are also regulated largely by our skin as it sends messages to the brain about movement and touch. Nerves and blood vessels feed the skin as it releases oils from its glands and body fluid (sweat) to cool our bodies.
Think of your skin as armor. When the armor develops a crack, a crisis develops that demands our attention. Underneath the skin are layers of fat, muscle and bone. If the body should experience a burn injury, we are at immediate risk.
Some burns are minor and heal well with little intervention. Other burns are critical, requiring urgent medical assistance. If you or a loved one suffers a serious burn, seek medical help immediately. Specially trained medical personnel will assess the burn to determine the best course of action.
Some burn injuries are deep enough to require skin grafting, although the need for grafting may not be immediately evident. Skin grafting is a surgical operation in which a piece of healthy skin is transplanted to the damaged area of the body.
Common reasons for performing a skin graft include:
- deep burns
- large, open wounds
- bed sores or other skin ulcers not healing well
Two types of grafts exist:
- The Split-Level Thickness Graft removes the top two layers of skin from a donor site (healthy area of the patient’s skin). Split-level thickness grafts are used when large areas of skin need to be covered. Additional grafts may be needed at a later date, especially in children as they grow.
- The Full Thickness Grafts removes the top two layers of skin along with muscle and blood vessels when smaller wounds need protection and coverage on visible body areas. This type of graft blends well with surrounding skin and offers the added benefit of growing with a young patient.
The graft is stapled to the burn area, then covered with a thin dressing and covered with bulky bandages moistened with antibiotic fluids. As the graft grows with the skin, it begins to stick to the wound. This is a delicate process wherein the grafted area must remain protected and largely immobile for up to two weeks. For some patients, on grafting surgery is enough; for others, more surgeries are needed. As the wounds heal, scarring may take place. The patient will feel quite sore at the grafted areas.
Severe burn injuries require long periods of healing and many treatments, and can become very costly. If you believe your injury was caused by someone else’s carelessness or negligence, a defective product or an accident, consult with a knowledgeable personal injury attorney who can explain your rights and discuss the compensation to which you may be entitled under the law.