The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we do things. Because of the new health and safety protocols to curb the spread of infection, the world has been forced to limit its movements and adapt to the “new normal.”
Drive-thru restaurants and fast-food chains have been around long before the pandemic began. They are convenient and let you buy food on the go. And with the world battling a contagious respiratory disease, the drive-thru ordering system has made it possible to get food without risking contamination.
Unfortunately, ordering and eating hot food and beverages in the car has its risks as well. In fact, our clinic has seen a surge of burn patients since the onset of the pandemic. Patients usually come in with painful burns and unattractive scars caused by spilling hot soup and coffee they bought from drive-thru restaurants.
First aid treatment for thermal burns:
Burns can be classified according to their source:
- Thermal burns happen when you come in direct contact with something hot like fire, steam, hot liquid, and hot objects. This is the most common type of burn injury, comprising 86% of burn cases.
- Chemical burns are caused by chemicals and irritants like strong acids and strong bases.
- Electrical burns are caused by a strong electric current. The human body is a conductor of electricity and can sustain burn injuries if an electric current runs through it.
Soup and coffee burns are considered thermal burns. They may get worse if not treated promptly.
If you have been burned by something hot, like soup or coffee, here are some first aid measures you can do:
- Remove the hot object or the source of the hot liquid.
- Put the burned area under cool running water.
- Apply a wet compress on the injury.
- Remove pieces of jewelry from the burned area before swelling occurs.
- Leave the blisters alone.
- Apply a burn ointment, if available, once the burn has completely cooled.
- If a burn ointment is not available, apply a moisturizer to prevent drying.
- Cover the burn loosely with a sterile dressing or bandage.
- Take an over-the-counter pain reliever to manage pain.
When should I go to the ER?
A thermal burn is considered an emergency if it covers more than 20% of the body’s surface area. Burns this large can cause you to lose a lot of fluids and go into shock. You should ask someone to call 911 if you are having trouble breathing.
Seek immediate medical attention if:
- The burn is larger than the size of your palm.
- The burn involves the face, hands, feet, private parts, and joints.
- The burn is not painful even when it should be.
What are the types of burns according to severity?
The severity of a burn injury can be classified based on the depth or the skin layers involved.
- First-degree burns are superficial and only affect the epidermis or the top-most layer of the skin. The burned skin is red, dry, and moderately painful.
- Second-degree burns involve the epidermis and the dermal layer. They are further classified into two:
- A superficial partial-thickness burn affects the superficial layer of the dermis. The area is red and wet, has blisters, blanches when touched with pressure, and is very painful.
- A deep partial-thickness burn involves the deeper layer of the dermis. The burned area is white and dry and does not blanch when pressure is applied. These burns are less painful because nerve endings are already destroyed.
- Full-thickness burns affect all the layers of the skin. The area doesn’t blanch and appears black or white, leathery, and dry. Pain is minimal as well because the nerves are destroyed.
Do all types of burns leave a scar?
No. First-degree burns heal in 5 to 10 days without scarring, while superficial partial-thickness burns heal in 3 weeks with minimal scarring.
On the other hand, deep partial-thickness burns heal within 2 months and can leave significant scarring. Full-thickness burns are the most severe. They usually take more than 2 months to heal, and the wound often requires skin grafting.
Plastic surgery treatment for burn scars
The treatment for major burns depends on its location and classification. Severe burns generally leave distinct and disfiguring scars and can even limit the function of a body part. The best way to correct these complications is through plastic surgery.
Depending on the type of scar and the degree of scarring, our plastic surgeon may consider the following options:
- Topical treatments
- Minimally invasive procedures
- Scar revision surgery
Why should you consider getting plastic surgery for a burn scar?
Plastic surgery for burns is a good option for you if you want to experience the following benefits:
- Reduced scar appearance
- Improved function
- Improved self-image
- Better quality of life
Plastic surgery not only improves the appearance of scars; it can also enhance the function of a body part. Patients who suffered from second and third-degree burns that involve the joints and the face may develop scar contractures in which the burned skin becomes tight and restricts movement.
The procedure can also improve your self-image. A 2020 study published in the Textbook on Scar Management journal has highlighted the harmful consequences of burn injuries to patients’ psychological well-being. According to this study, women find it harder to cope with the after-effects of the injury as their appearance contributes to their self-esteem and self-worth.
Each burn injury case requires a unique and individualized plastic surgery approach. Get in touch with our plastic surgeon consultant to find out what treatment options fit your needs and can help you reach your goals.
Scar revision for burn scars
Soup and coffee burns, or scalds, may affect a large area of the skin. A thick and sticky consistency can lead to more severe scalds and, consequently, worse scarring.
Scar revision surgery aims to treat and minimize the appearance of scars so that they are less obvious. Our plastic surgeon and burns specialist performs different techniques to even out depressed, raised, discolored, and textured scars so that the injured skin blends in with the patient’s healthy skin.
Patients undergoing a scar revision are given local or general anesthesia. The procedure may involve the following advanced techniques:
- Dermabrasion. This procedure enhances the appearance of scars by running a rotating device over the skin to scrape off and level its superficial layer. A new layer of healthier skin will replace the “sanded” skin.
- Keloid scar removal. Keloids are raised scars that are bigger than the original wound. After the keloid is removed through surgery, skin grafting is performed to cover the exposed area.
- Laser treatment. This procedure uses focused light therapy to remove the superficial and scarred layer of the skin. Like dermabrasion, new skin will replace the treated area.
- Skin flap surgery. This treatment entails transferring a healthy layer of skin, fat tissues, blood vessels, and muscles from the donor site to the injured area.
- Skin grafting. This procedure is almost similar to skin flap surgery, only that the tissue to be transferred doesn’t have its own blood supply.
- Tissue expansion. This reconstructive procedure allows the body to stretch and grow extra skin, which is used to repair the scarred area.
- Z-plasty. This surgical technique lessens skin tightness due to contracture, changes the appearance of the scar, and aligns it with the skin’s natural creases and folds.
Who are good candidates for scar revision surgery?
Scar revision not only improves the appearance of the scar; it can also improve the function of the affected body part. You answer to the following questions can help determine if you are a good candidate for this reconstructive procedure:
- Are you bothered by the appearance of your burn scar?
- Does your scar limit your movement and affect the way you function?
- Are you physically healthy?
- Do you know what to expect after a scar revision surgery?
- Do you have realistic goals for the surgery?
- Are you willing to make some lifestyle adjustments to prepare for the surgery?
If you answer “yes” to these questions, scar revision surgery may be a good option for you.
Where can I get plastic surgery for scars in Miami?
If you are looking for a board-certified plastic surgeon who can improve the appearance of your burn scars, you may want to consider the expertise of Dr. Thomas Zaydon. He specializes in reconstructive surgery and has decades of professional experience treating burns of varying severity for functional and aesthetic reasons.
Dr. Zaydon offers various types of plastic surgery procedures, including:
Dr. Zaydon also serves as a workers compensation plastic surgeon and a plastic surgery expert witness for liability cases. He has reviewed many legal documents and has served as an expert witness for both plaintiff and defendant.
If you like to book an appointment or want more information, please Contact Us.
The material contained on this site is for informational purposes only and DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE PROVIDING OF MEDICAL ADVICE, and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional medical judgment, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your health.