My Sister Burned her leg third degree burn question

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New Member

Date Joined Feb 2011
Total Posts : 12
   Posted 3/20/2011 5:46 PM (GMT -6)   
My sister burned her leg about 5 weeks go from going to sleep on a heating pad by accident for 5 hrs. She got a huge burn on her outer thigh. To make a long story short, about 2 weeks after it was burned, it swelled way up and was hard, red, and hot. She had surgery done on it and now she has about a 4 inch hole circumference the surgeon had to cut out that has to heal from the inside out. It was a third degree burn but it did not go through to the bone thank God, and her blood work came back just fine. There was extreme drainage. It is 2.5 weeks later, and the swelling is nearly gone, the wound is healing surely but slowly, but the skin around it (about 5 inches all around), is still hard to the touch. The doctor said it is still dead skin in there, that is still coming out into the wound which is cleaned once a day by a nurse. He is not a burn doctor, just a surgeon with a great reputation. MY QUESTION is, I am still really concerned about the hard areas all around the hole he cut out. The area is getting a bit softer but it is so hard. The surgeon said he never saw anything like I hope he is competent to treat her. Does anyone with experience know about hard areas after a third degree burn, and if so, do they heal on their own?

Since the surgery, she has lost 30 lbs and gets nauseated and can't hardly eat. The doc had her stop her pills and that does not help either. She got a tongue fungi from all of the meds and now has to take one pill a day to heal that up. I just am so worried about her, but they won't go to a burn center. She is healing up, but I don't know why she has such a large area of hard skin around the wound. I guess im hoping it will all be ok in time. ANy input out there from a doctor?

Veteran Member

Date Joined Jul 2009
Total Posts : 2042
   Posted 3/20/2011 9:27 PM (GMT -6)   
I wish I could help you more, but all I can tell you is that severe burns do take a long, long time to heal and that they require constant attention to make sure they heal the best they can and also to avoid infection which is a huge concern with 2nd and 3rd degree burns.

Your best bet for really good information is to call a burn center in your area and ask to speak with a wound care nurse who specializes in burns and explain your concerns to the nurse who will hopefully be able to tell you if this is entirely normal or a reason to be concerned.
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Regular Member

Date Joined Nov 2010
Total Posts : 108
   Posted 3/20/2011 11:50 PM (GMT -6)   
Has the surgeon mentioned skin grafting the site. The actual healing of the burn causes the skin to harden and contract. Does she massage the area with anything? Are you sure she has no fever or infection? Healing from the inside out takes months, and the continued healing from the burn can be longer than a year. Please strongly recommend a burn center, or perhaps accompany her to a dr appt with the surgeon, and ask about alternate treatements like whirlpools, etc. Perphaps he will then recommend a burn unit.

Regular Member

Date Joined Jan 2011
Total Posts : 230
   Posted 3/21/2011 1:00 AM (GMT -6)   
I've burned myself a few times fairly baddly, but nothing to that extent; I hope your sister is feeling alright and makes a swift recovery with no permanent damage...
I only have one real question though. Why won't/can't she go to a burn center? Is her doctoring not referring her to one, does she not want to go? I would think they would be best to handle this situation, if for nothing more then post surgical care to help her through the long process of healing. If they won't refer her perhaps she should inquire about going to one regardless. I'm not doubting the surgeon, but a burn center specializes in just that; burns.

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Date Joined Jan 2005
Total Posts : 9249
   Posted 3/21/2011 1:07 AM (GMT -6)   
Hi and Welcome!

I'm glad you came here to ask your questions. One thing to know is that we are a support forum, which means we share from our own experiences and help support each other emotionally and with information we have gained in our lifetime. But no one here is a medical personel and we don't ever profess to be nor give out any diagnosis. It wouldn't be right since we've not seen her plus we just aren't qualified.

That being said I'd be happy to share the little I know about burns. I looks to me like purplereading has given some serious advice and must have experience in the burn area. Hopefully others will come along and help. But I DO know that you have a right to another opinion and to have your girlfriend see someone else to make sure everything is being done properly. If the surgeon doesn't like the fact that you are going to see someone else then that's his problem. Many years ago my mother was going to a doctor for pre-cancerous cells. During her visits my dad said some things just didn't add up and he wasn't being forthright about her care. So they told him they were going to get a second opinion. Within days he had sent them a letter dismissing her as a patient and went on a rant against them! They were a bit more than shocked. Mom and dad were always quit spoken and very respectful. Even if they felt he wasn't doing his job they would never say it to his face except to say they were choosing a second opinion. Come to find out this doctor was doing this to others too and was literally going senile while practicing. The medical board took his license away not long after.

So my point is, even though most all doctors are wonderful and doing a great job, there are those who aren't. Please don't let yours be one of them and not do anything about it. If your girlfriend were to get a bad infection that the surgeon didn't care for he could be putting her life in jeopardy. If it were me I'd be on that phone Monday AM! Like mentioned above, call a local burn center, the burn center of a hospital or even your state AMA to get the name of someone who's qualified. Ask around, look around. In our state, Washington, there is a large burn center in Seattle and that's who I'd call if it were me.

Once you make that call you can sit back, relax and doing some pickin' for your gal!
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New Member

Date Joined Mar 2011
Total Posts : 17
   Posted 3/21/2011 2:48 AM (GMT -6)   
I do not have any personal experience with burns but I do with surgeries and healing wounds. I have had 23 surgeries to date. One in particular may be similar to your sister. I had a very bad abdominal infection, (very long story), and as my skin, tissue, and insides died off, they did numerous surgeries to keep removing dead infected areas. My wound was also left open to heal from the inside out. They packed it every day with clean dressing and antibiotics. I still have a massive hole, looks like a small cannon was shot into my abdomen, but it has all healed. I have very hard areas around the wounded area. It is scar tissue. When you have an extremely traumatic injury, especially ones healed from the inside out, you will develop a very large amount of scar tissue. Way more than you see with a cut, or even a surgery that they stitch or staple shut. Most of the area does not hurt or cause problems other than looking very odd. Whenever I had the hard areas appear rather quickly after surgery, it was the normal, non painful scar tissue.(this is not medical advise only what has occured with my body in the past) But I have also developed some areas that are painful all the time and get worse with movement. The doctors informed me that this is called adhesions. They are a little deeper than the hard areas, and further away from the actual wound area. The adhesions take much longer to appear and they attach themselves to something inside like muscles, intestines, other organs. Unfortunately there is nothing that can be done for these, (in my case) as the only treatment other than a physical therapist massaging the area to try and break it down, is another surgery to remove all of the scar tissue and the adhesions. They said it would help for about a year with some of the pain, but it would scar in the same area to replace what they take out, only each time the scar gets bigger and deeper and causes even more problems. Due to the nature of my illness, I take an extremely long time to heal, so by the time I got over the surgery they would be back only worse. So I opted not to have them removed. I would still ask the opinion of a physician or wound specialist about the areas you are concerned with. Please also tell her to be watchful for any pain that develops down the road after all is healed, as the adhesions may develop due to the packing technique they are using. I hope she is better soon. You and she will be in my thoughts.
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Mrs. Dani
Veteran Member

Date Joined Jun 2009
Total Posts : 2787
   Posted 3/21/2011 11:41 AM (GMT -6)   
 Good morning Guitar :-)
   It was very hard to read about all your sister has had to endure through. I am so sorry! It must be unbearable. I can tell you are very concerned about her care and her healing. Who could blame you? By your own account, they are not specialized in burn care. It is very concerning.
    I did not know much about burn wounds. I spent a little time learning about this morning this is some useful information I have found so far....
"..... a second-degree partial-thickness burn can progress to a third-degree burn over time even after initial treatment. Distinguishing between the superficial-thickness burn and the partial-thickness burn is important, as the former may heal spontaneously, whereas the latter often requires surgical excision...."
" Third-degree burn: A third-degree burn, also known as a full thickness burn, destroys all the epidermal and dermal skin layers. The tissue damage extends below hair follicles and sweat glands to subcutaneous (fat) tissue. With this degree of burn, the skin becomes charred and leathery and often appears depressed relative to surrounding tissue. The skin can be bright red, waxy white, tan or brown; there are no blisters; and third degree burns may cause massive swelling. Perhaps surprisingly, third degree burns are usually not painful because the injury has destroyed nerve endings. Skin grafting or other replacement options are required for treatment of a third degree burn.

When a burn injury is deep enough to involve muscle, bone, tendon and/or ligament, it is sometimes classified as a fourth degree burn. These burns are often life threatening and may require amputation."


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Chronic Pain Moderator

Veteran Member

Date Joined Apr 2009
Total Posts : 856
   Posted 3/21/2011 12:34 PM (GMT -6)   
I don't have much experience with serious burns. If I were her, I would call the doctor and ask about all of these things. Healing does take a long time. I burned my back by forgetting to turn my heating pad off. I now have a heating pad that automatically shuts off in one hour. It is much safer, in my opinion, as the chances of getting burned are much lower. Your sister probably won't use heat for some time, but I wanted to let you know...

New Member

Date Joined Feb 2011
Total Posts : 12
   Posted 3/29/2011 1:18 PM (GMT -6)   
My sister's update: We took her to emergency and she is now in kidney failure. Her leg is healing just fine and is looking better every day but the doctor's think it is a seperate issue or possibly proteins/muscle cell break down from the burn has gotten into blood and is affecting the kidneys but they don't know yet. Today she woke up with a 100.6 fever. They are going to do a blood transfusion tonight and dialysis, plus a kidney biopsy. It could be related to the burn but not sure yet. Talk about stress! Everyone who believes in the power of prayer, please stop for a few seconds and pray for my sister "linda". thank you!
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