Depending on the type, severity and location of the burn, any of a number of burn treatments and procedures may be recommended .


Z-plasty is a surgical technique used to reposition a scar so that it more closely conforms to the natural lines and creases of the skin, where it will be less noticeable. It can also relieve the tension caused by contracture. Not all scars lend themselves to Z-plasty, however, and it requires an experienced plastic surgeon to make such judgments. In this procedure, the old scar is removed and new incisions are made on each side, creating small triangular flaps of skin. These flaps are then rearranged to cover the wound at a different angle, giving the scar a “Z”pattern. The wound is closed with fine stitches, which are removed a few days later. Z-plasty is usually performed as an outpatient procedure underlocal anesthesia. While Z-plasty can make some scars less obvious, it won’t make them disappear. A portion of the scar will still remain outside the lines of relaxation.

Skin grafting and flap surgery

Skin grafts and flaps are more serious than other forms of scar surgery. They’re more likely to be performed in a hospital as inpatient procedures, using general anesthesia. The treated area may take several weeks or months to heal, and a support garment or bandage may be necessary for up to a year. Grafting involves the transfer of skin from a healthy part of the body (the donor site) to cover the injured area. The graft is said to “take”when new blood vessels and scar tissue form in the injured area. While most grafts from a person’s own skin are successful, sometimes the graft doesn’t take. In addition, all grafts leave some scarring at the donor and recipient sites. Flap surgery is a complex procedure in which skin, along with the underlying fat, blood vessels, and sometimes the muscle, is moved from a healthy part of the body to the injured site. In some flaps, the blood supply remains attached at one end to the donor site; in others, the blood vessels in the flap are reattached to vessels at the new site using microvascular surgery. Skin grafting and flap surgery can greatly improve the function of a scarred area. The cosmetic results may be less satisfactory, since the transferred skin may not precisely match the color and texture of the surrounding skin. In general, flap surgery produces better cosmetic results than skin grafts.

Steroid Injections

Keloid or hypertrphic scars are sometimes treated with injections of a special steroid that stops the production of collagen, causing the scar to flatten and fade. If necessary, other surgical procedures may be done later to refine the results.


This simply means removing the scar by cutting it out. It is often used on hypertrophic scars.

Resurfacing Techniques

Scars that have a rough or elevated appearance may be smoothed by a device called a short-pulse carbon dioxide laser. The laser emits powerful bursts of high-intensity light that vaporize the scar tissue with little or no damage to surrounding areas of the skin. In some cases, raised or bumpy scars may be treated with dermabrasion (a facial sanding technique.)

Burn Basics: Good Judgement is Key

In this video, Burn Reconstruction Expert and board-certified plastic surgeon Ramsey Choucair, MD, discusses why good judgment is essential when treating burn injuries.

Burn Scar Maturation