Reconstructive Plastic Surgery

Burn Reconstruction

Reconstructive plastic surgery may be an option if you have suffered a severe burn and you are experiencing limited mobility, a loss of sensation or cosmetically unappealing scarring.

Reconstructive plastic surgery may help increase basic function and make scars less noticeable.


What is Plastic Surgery After Burns?

If you have burn scars that impede function or are aesthetically unappealing, plastic surgery may be an option for you.

We can work to improve the function and the cosmetic appearance of your burn wound. This could include changing scar tissue with both operative and non-operative procedures.

Treatment of scar tissue may take several months, as new scar contractures can continue to appear, especially in young patients who are still developing.




What are the Benefits of Reconstructive Burn Surgery?

Sometimes it’s not possible to completely remove burn scars, but we may be able to improve your function and the cosmetic appearance.

In cases affecting the mobility of the neck, shoulder, hands or legs, burn reconstruction surgery can help increase the range of motion.

Facial burn reconstruction can help with facial scarring that causes issues related to eyelids, nose, lips or hair loss.

Operative scars that are unusually large, wide or discoloured can also be altered through operative and non-operative procedures.


Recovery and Rehabilitation

Before leaving for home we will provide post-operative care instructions. These instructions will explain how to care for the site, any medications that you will need to take/apply to reduce the risk of infection and when you will need a follow-up appointment.

You may need to return to have your stitches removed. At this time you may also need to tape the scar or apply a special dressing or ointment to keep the scar contained and improve the cosmetic appearance.


Nurse,and,doctor,prepare,patient,readiness,in,surgery,roomNotify the RPS team immediately if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • nausea, vomiting or diarrhoea
  • fever/high temperature – 38°C or higher
  • shortness of breath
  • leakage of blood or fluid after day one of recovery
  • increasing pain around the site
  • increasing redness around incision site
  • heavy bleeding from incision site.
More information

What else you should know

Is this the right surgery for me? 

Burn reconstruction surgery isn’t for everyone. If you’re interested in reconstructive burn treatment, the first step is to book a consultation with one of our specialist plastic surgeons in Melbourne.

During this consultation you can discuss your goals and your expected outcome. Your surgeon will advise if your expectations are achievable and the long-term benefits of the procedure.

Remember, each individual is different, so your surgeon will determine the correct technique and treatment plan for your specific needs.

During your initial consultation the surgeon will:

  • Ask you to provide a complete medical history. This will need to include details of any previous surgical procedure, past and present medical conditions and any medications or supplements you currently take.
  • Conduct a physical examination.
  • Advise the risks and complications associated with the burn reconstruction.


What are the surgical options for scar release procedures?

Scar revision can be undertaken in a number of ways. It may involve surgery to re-orient the scar to permit it to hide better by using existing nearby skin creases. Other times new skin may need to be imported by the use of skin grafts or flaps. In specific areas, stretching the surrounding skin using a technique called tissue expansion may allow for removal of contracted areas. These options will be discussed with you as part of your pre-operative planning.

Some specific techniques include:



In Z-plasty your surgeon will use a Z- shaped incision(s) to re-orient the direction of your scar or to break up the visible straight line of a scar to make it less obvious.

Skin grafts

Skin grafts are used when a significant amount of skin is necessary and there is not sufficient skin around the scar. Secondary burns reconstruction most commonly uses full thickness skin grafts from areas of natural laxity but thinner (Split thickness) skin grafts are still used in specific cases. Which method is used will depend on the location of the scarring and your needs.

Minor skin grafts can be done though outpatient surgery, but larger procedures using bigger grafts will need a longer stay.


Tissue flaps are used to transfer tissue from an area of excess skin to the scarred area while preserving the blood supply to the tissue. This often leads to the best results, but is technically demanding and sufficient tissue is not always present at the site to permit flap reconstruction.

Tissue expansion

Tissue expansion can also be used for burn reconstruction. This technique involves the insertion of expandable medical devices that stretch the overlying skin as they are expanded through the injection of saline into a port on the implant. They can be particularly useful to stretch hair-bearing skin for scalp reconstruction and work best in younger, more elastic skin. Your surgeon will discuss this option with you if you have a suitable burn scar for management by tissue expansion.

Are there any non-surgical alternatives to improve burn scarring?

There are several non-operative therapies to help improve burn scarring. These include scar massage, topical therapies and the application of pressure garments, fitted by occupational therapists.

These may be useful instead of surgery or to help following surgery.

What scarring should I expect?

After surgery the scar may look worse. It needs time to heal and mature.

We recommend avoiding sun exposure for a few months after your surgery. Scar tissue is more susceptible to sunburn and sun exposure can cause redness, delay healing and increase pigmentation of the scar.

If the scar is severe, you may require additional treatment over the following months.

Depending upon the severity of the original scarring, further treatment may be necessary in the following months.

How will RPS manage my post-operative care?

We will give you specific advice regarding your individual post-operative recovery. They will advise:

  • where you will go after your surgery
  • what medication you will be given or prescribed
  • what bandages and dressings you will need and when they’ll be removed
  • if you require stitches, when they’ll be removed
  • when you can get back to normal activity and exercise
  • when to book your follow-up care.

Dr. Michael Findlay

Our Melbourne specialist

The team at RPS Melbourne are committed to providing you with the best possible outcome.

The extensive specialist skills of our surgical team ensure that you are provided with surgical options designed to maximise form and function.

Dr Michael Findlay holds an impressive array of academic credentials, extensive professional experience and a personal commitment to patient satisfaction.