Burns involve the severe damage of some or all of the skin layers due to external causes involving high temperature (fire, scalding water or air or other high temperature sources), or caustic effects (chemical products etc.). Burns, in their acute phase, are a multisystem disease affecting the whole body (kidney, liver, respiratory functions). Depending on their severity, burns can even cause death.
The treatment of the acute phase of a burn and the reconstruction during later phases, along with all the resulting accompanying problems are the object of plastic surgery. The most common problem in later phases is the treatment of unsightly scars resulting from severe shrinking of the affected area. Scars can disturb free movement in the limbs and head, can incapacitate chewing, walking, functioning of the lower hand etc.
Numerous and very complex operations may be required. Tissue expanders, along with other plastic surgery treatments, might be employed in order to produce the excess skin tissue needed.
Both patient and surgeon must have patience, because burn treatment can be a long process.