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Burn care

Burn care focuses on the treatment and minimization of injuries caused by heat, chemicals, friction, electricity or radiation. Care can also include specialized reconstructive services.

Burn specialists in Richmond, Virginia

Our team offers support alongside healing.

Chippenham Hospital's burn and reconstruction center brings together specialists from various medical disciplines, such as plastic surgery and physical therapy, to provide you with exemplary care. Our team delivers personalized burn treatment plans to help you heal faster.

Types of burns we treat

In the event of burns and resulting complications, our doctors are ready to treat any member of your family, from children to adults. The types of burn injuries that should be referred to our center include:

  • Burns and accompanying trauma
  • Chemical burns
  • Electrical burns
  • Friction burns
  • Inhalation injuries
  • Lightning injuries
  • Radiation burns
  • Third-degree burns

Our burn treatments and services

Our Level I Burn Center offers a wide range of advanced treatments. We do everything in our capacity to return you to the highest possible level of independence and function.

Burn treatments and services

Severe burns are considered traumatic wounds, so our burn care services are provided through our wound care program and supported by our Level I Trauma Center and Level I Burn Center. Depending on your condition, you may receive one or more of the following treatments and services:

  • Custom garment application
  • Hydrotherapy
  • Hyperbaric medicine
  • Laser treatment
  • Nutrition counseling
  • Pediatric burn care
  • Physical therapy and rehabilitation
  • Reconstructive surgery
  • Skin graft surgery
  • Speech-language pathology
  • Tissue expanders
  • Tissue transfers or flaps
Hyperbaric medicine

Hyperbaric medicine, also called hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT), involves breathing pure oxygen within a sealed, pressurized environment. We use this treatment to heal a variety of wounds, including severe burns.

HBOT helps burns heal by increasing the oxygen saturation in your blood. When this oxygen-saturated blood reaches the burned area of your body, it promotes new, healthy tissue growth.

Skin graft surgery

Skin grafting procedures involve a surgeon covering burns with healthy skin extracted from another area of your body or from another person. This type of treatment helps minimize scarring.

Pediatric burns

We use specialized pediatric equipment specifically designed for children 15 years old and younger. Some of our equipment is smaller to accommodate our smaller patients, and our experts understand how burns impact a child's body differently than an adult's.

Laser therapy treatment for burns

Chippenham Hospital offers Central Virginia’s only state-of-the-art laser treatment for burn and traumatic scars.

We recommend laser scar revision for scars that are:

  • Itchy
  • Painful
  • Red or discolored
  • Tight/firm/hard or contracted

Laser treatment is most appropriate for thick, raised scars. These scars — also known as hypertrophic scars — result from abnormal or excessive healing. They are often red or inflamed and frequently cause significant functional impairment. For example, the scar may make it difficult for you to bend a joint. They may also cause emotional distress when they are located on the face, neck or other visible area.

While laser treatment will not completely remove burn scars, it can improve the functional abilities you may have lost due to scarring. You might also experience a softening of your burn scars and less itching. The appearance of scars may improve after laser treatments, but you should not expect a dramatic improvement in how scars look with laser treatment alone.

Laser treatment may also be offered as part of a more comprehensive burn scar reconstructive treatment program tailored for you. Your surgeon will assess whether other treatments, such as surgery, tissue expansion, or medication, would help you reach your goals.

What is the treatment like?

During laser treatments, the surgeon uses a special device called a fractional ablative carbon dioxide (CO2) laser to create microscopic holes in the tissue of a burn scar. This energy is thought to stimulate changes in the scar tissue. Next, a steroid solution is applied to the scar, which is absorbed into the holes. This medication also contributes to scar improvements.

The experience feels like a rubber band snapping against the skin for some people but can be more intense for others. A tingling or burning sensation is expected for up to six hours after treatment. Additionally:

  • Patients will wear eye protection because the laser light can potentially harm eyes.
  • The physician will test the skin’s reaction to the laser at the first session.
  • Subsequent sessions may be longer (up to 30 minutes) to treat a larger area.

Laser treatment procedures typically use general anesthesia, and you should be able to go home the same day with a simple dressing over the treatment area.

What is the treatment plan?

Each patient will require a different number of laser treatments. Patients usually start to see improvement in symptoms around the third treatment. Most people will start with six planned treatments. However, this may vary depending on the location(s), size, thickness of scar(s) and individual response.

Our burn treatment team

We make sure that your care is handled by a multidisciplinary burn treatment team so that you receive the depth and breadth of care that you deserve. Our burn care team includes:

  • Burn and trauma surgeons
  • Burn care nurses
  • Case managers
  • Physical therapists
  • Plastic surgeons
  • Psychologists
  • Respiratory therapists
  • Social workers

More information about burns

We take great pride in treating you, and part of that is educating you about how to avoid needing our care. Learn more about different types of burns and ways to stay safe.

Levels of burns

Burns vary in their severity, and are classified by degrees:

  • First-degree burns affect just the outer layer of skin. The skin will be red and swollen and you will be in some pain.
  • Second-degree burns are called partial-thickness burns and involve the first and second layers of skin. The skin will be bright red, swollen, and blistery, and you will be in severe pain.
  • Third-degree burns are called full-thickness burns and involve all layers of the skin and underlying tissues. You would have a wound appearing charred, black, white and leathery or waxy. You may not be in any pain because the nerves on the skin are damaged.

Home burn and fire safety

According to the National Safe Kids Campaign, burns and fires are common causes of accidental deaths in children and adults. Hot tap water burns cause more deaths and hospitalizations than burns from any other hot liquids. The good news is that the vast majority of burns are easily preventable, and fire safety rules are easy to implement in your home.

We offer the following fire safety tips for you and your family:

  • Blow out candles before you leave the room or before you go to sleep.
  • Create and practice a home fire escape plan with two ways out of every room in case of a fire.
  • Have a working smoke alarm on every level and every sleeping area of your home.
  • Teach children to never play with matches and lighters — store those items when not in use.
  • Limit distractions when cooking and don’t leave a hot oven or stovetop unattended.
  • Teach children to get low and get out at the sound of a smoke alarm.

We offer additional tips for keeping children safe from starting fires, getting burned or burning others:

  • Keep children away from the stove when cooking.
  • Keep hot drinks away from the edge of tables and counters and don’t use tablecloths or placemats.
  • Never hold or carry a child with a hot drink in your hand.
  • Run your hand through bath water to test for hot spots.
  • Set your water heater at 120 degrees (48 degrees Celsius) or just below the medium setting.
  • Stir microwaved food and test temperature before serving.
  • Use a travel mug with a tight-fitting lid for all hot drinks.
  • Use a thermometer to test the water coming out of your bath water tap.
  • Use back burners and turn pot handles toward the back of the stove so your child cannot pull them down.
  • Use oven mitts when cooking or handling hot food and drinks.

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Holiday cooking safety

Our team wants to help you and your loved ones to have a safe and healthy holiday season.