American Society of Plastic Surgeons
For Medical Professionals

Burn patient finds hope after accident thanks to plastic surgery

Mariam Massoud described herself as a normal young mother and wife who worked as a veterinarian and felt she had a bright future ahead of her. But it all changed instantly when a flammable liquid exploded on multiple parts of Massoud's body, burning her skin.

"My life after the accident, it changed dramatically because I felt I was in a deep, dark hole," said Massoud.

She turned to specialists who understood the complexity of her burns and could offer innovations that helped her regain some of her previous functions.

"In 2012, I had a minor procedure. After I saw the results, it started to come to me, 'Oh my God, what if there is something more that can be done for me?'" said Massoud.

Finding out about CO2 lasers

At that time, she learned about carbon dioxide (CO2) laser treatment and the hope it had given many burn victims to improve recent and older scars.

"It was a big, huge event for me. And I started to seek options," said Massoud.

Fractional CO2 laser therapy is a promising treatment for patients with burn scars. This noninvasive procedure uses laser energy to break down scar tissue, revealing softer and smoother skin beneath. In addition, fractional CO2 laser therapy can help to increase the range of motion for patients with burn-related stiffness and pain.

Most patients tolerate the procedure well, and the results can be functionally and cosmetically beneficial. For patients living with the effects of a burn injury, fractional CO2 laser therapy offers a safe and effective way to improve their quality of life.

"Our goal here is to really help the patient improve the pain and the itching that they have developed at the site of these scars from their burn injuries," said Renee Edkins, DNP.

The CO2 laser Edkins uses with her burn patients penetrates deep into the tissue, remodeling the underlying collagen. This laser can release the contractures and increase the viability of the skin tissue itself.

In addition, Edkins also relies on the pulsed dye laser, which is vascular. It helps seal small vessels in the skin and can get the patient off medication for itching.

A renewal of hope

"All of this combined helps the patient return back to a normal lifestyle, get off of medications that are sedating and return to work or school," said Edkins.

According to Massoud, her laser therapy was successful.

"After I started to see results from the surgeries and the treatment, I just started to feel more energy," said Massoud. "I wanted to run faster. I wanted to achieve more on a personal and work level."

Massoud, a patient with young children, said she was able to go back to school and focus more on her boys and ways to be happy after her surgeries.

"Because I started to feel results and that good things could come out of this," she said.

Always innovating through plastic surgery

Burn patients suffer from problems that involve the skin and its contents, whether it be an injured hand, a badly burned face or scarring over other areas of the body.

"Plastic surgeons take care of all these problems," said C. Scott Hultman, MD, MBA, of The Department of Plastic Surgery at Johns Hopkins Medicine.

The core competency of surgeons specializing in burns is caring for the skin and its contents. They are experienced and trained in hand surgery, peripheral nerve surgery, facial surgery, genital reconstruction and skin wound management. That is, however, not all they do.

"We also introduce innovation as one of our guiding principles," said Hultman. "That is, we're always seeking to do things better, to do things more efficiently, and to provide a better outcome for our patients."

To find a qualified plastic surgeon for any cosmetic or reconstructive procedure, consult a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. All ASPS members are board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, have completed an accredited plastic surgery training program, practice in accredited facilities and follow strict standards of safety and ethics. Find an ASPS member in your area.


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