What is excision of burn wounds?

Stuart A. Linder, MD
Plastic Surgery
Excision of a burn wound is the surgical "cutting out" of the traumatized area. This may be useful for small burns. Larger burns require serial tangential debridment with skin grafting in a burn unit. After tangential debridement, silvadene or sulfamylon dressing changes are perfomed to clean the bed of the wound prior to permanent skin graft placement.
Excision is a surgical procedure that doctors may recommend for deep burns that cannot heal on their own. Excision involves making an incision through the burn eschar (necrotic skin), the open wound, or the scars of a burn deep into the dermis. With excision, the surgeon will then get rid of all necrotic and unnecessary tissue and prepare the wound for the next process.

Excision is different from debridement in that the burn injury is prepared to have skin grafts or synthetic grafts placed on the surface of the skin. This procedure leaves a large area that must be covered. Sometimes scars are excised prior to reconstructive surgery.  Studies confirm that early excision and grafting has improved outcomes with people admitted to burn units.

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