Trauma from burns often requires a combination of emergency care, reconstructive surgery, physical therapy and rehabilitation [source: Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center]. Reconstructive surgery for burn survivors can help reduce physical disfigurement and relieve disabilities caused by skin grafts and scarring. Third-degree burns, also known as full thickness burns, cause damage so severe the wound can't heal without surgery. These surgical procedures often include debriding -- cleaning all dead tissue from the wound -- and skin grafts -- when skin from a donor site on the body is used to replace the skin injured by the burn -- among other necessary treatments.
For example, after removing all the dead tissue from within the burn site, surgeons may determine that tissue is needed to fill out the injured part of the body before skin grafts can be done. One new treatment is Integra, an artificial skin that contains shark cartilage. It's applied to burn wounds to help with tissue regeneration. Integra acts in two ways: The top layer works like skin, protecting the wound, while the bottom layer helps to regenerate skin tissue. When ready, the top layer of Integra is removed from the wound and replaced with a skin graft.
Reconstructive burn surgeries usually target the scarring left behind from the trauma, and for some patients, the process can span several years. Integra is also used in surgeries to reduce the scar tissue that results from severe burns.