Old Technique Offers New Hope for Burn Victims

Each year, more than 500,000 Americans suffer from scalding and the burns leave lasting scars that cause physical and emotional damage.

Now, there's a new way to help them heal, with a technique that expands the skin. The procedure is most commonly used during breast reconstruction.

Hailey Woodall is still dealing with the aftermath of an accident that happened 12 years ago. When Hailey was 19-months-old, she spilled a pot of scalding water on herself.

"I kind of just grabbed it... and tilted it onto myself," Woodall said.

She burned 40 percent of her body.

"It was horrific," said Hailey's mother Tiffany Woodall. "I said -- 'I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy to go through that.'"

Woodall spent months in the hospital and had numerous skin graft procedures, but years later -- her burn scares were still causing problems.

Woodall's scars were affecting the growth of her breast and preventing movement in her arm.

Cleveland Clinic plastic surgeon Dr. Bahar Bassiri Gharb put a saline-filled expander under Woodall's skin to gradually stretch it out and grow new skin.

After a few months, the expander was taken out out, Woodall's old scars were removed and the new skin was used to cover the area.

"So with this surgery, we removed half of Hailey's scars and covered them with normal skin,"  said Gharb.

Now, Woodall can raise her arms and she's got her confidence back.

"She's just so much happier, and she smiles more," Tiffany Woodall said.

Woodall still needs at least two more surgeries to fix her scars.

This reconstructive procedure can be done on almost any area of the body.

Contact Us