As New York workers' compensation attorneys, we at Markhoff & Mittman, P.C. have seen a lot of work-related burn injuries over the years. Sadly, many of these injuries have resulted in skin grafting. Although frightening to think about, skin grafts do serve to both reduce the recovery time needed for a severe on-the-job burn and improve the eventual use and appearance of the affected body part. Knowing ahead of time what to expect during and after a skin grafting procedure can make the entire process a lot easier, and a lot less scary.
What do I need to know about skin grafts after a work-related burn injury?
There are two types of skin grafts:
- Full-thickness skin grafts use a piece of skin made up of both the epidermis and the entire thickness of the dermis.
- Partial-thickness skin grafts are made up of the entire epidermis and only a part of the dermis.
The type of skin graft you receive will depend on the severity of your initial burn injury.
Where will my skin graft be taken from?
The skin graft will be taken from an area called a "donor area," where the skin best matches the color and texture of the graft area. Whenever possible, this will be taken from wherever it is least likely to cause problems with scarring. Common donor areas include the back of the ear, the scalp, the upper arm, and the groin area.
What is the healing process like?
After surgery, the wound is covered with a firm dressing to hold the graft in place. The wound from the donor area is also dressed. The initial dressings will need to be kept clean and dry until removed by your healthcare provider. You may be asked to use an ice pack on the area for the first few days.
You may need to limit certain activities during the healing process to avoid disturbing the graft site. Medications, such as pain killers and antibiotics, are often prescribed.
During your follow-up appointments, your dressings may be changed, stitches and dead skin around the wound may be removed, and any fluid in the graft will be removed. Eventually, you will be asked to cleanse the wounds and change dressings on your own until they are healed.
How will the skin graft look?
On the big day when your dressing is finally removed, the graft area may appear quite discolored (purple or black). There may also be some crusting, drainage, or dry skin. Don't be discouraged. Over the next three months, the discoloration will improve dramatically, and the appearance of the wound will continue to improve over the next year.
The Markhoff & Mittman team wants to remind you to always follow your doctor's instructions after a work-related burn injury and to take care of yourself during the healing process by eating well and staying as active as you are able. If you have questions about New York workers' compensation or disability for your New York worksite burn injury, contact us today at 866-205-2415 or request one of our free books. We look forward to serving you through your long recovery.