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Wound Healing

Patients often have concerns about wound healing. Wounds are the result of many factors, including a patient’s disease process, such as diabetes, injury, or cancer; malnutrition and hydration issues; drug therapies; surgical site infections; or circulatory and cardiovascular disorders. Acute wounds that result from surgery or trauma may become chronic. These wounds may be very deep and resist healing. Chronic wounds require new and more effective healing strategies. Dermatology Specialists of Atlanta, a triple board-certified dermatology and dermopathology practice, evaluates, diagnoses, and treats patients with all skin conditions, disorders, and diseases.

Some newer treatments, including laser and ultrasound therapies, help to heal wounds without invasive surgery. Pulsing laser light helps to increase blood flood to speed healing of many types of wounds suffered by young and old patients. Ultrasound-assisted wound therapy (UAW) is also used to heal very deep wounds, such as diabetic ulcers, vascular-venous stasis, arterial statis, or necrotic wounds that need debridement (regular removal of dead tissues). The types of wounds include:

  • Necrotic wounds: appear darker than the surrounding skin. In fact, these wounds may appear dark brown or even black. A black wound suggests that eschar is present.
  • Sloughy wounds: appear yellowish as the result of accumulated cellular debris, bacteria, leucocytes, and exudates. Adhering yellowish tissue that isn’t removed by cleaning or irrigating the wound is called slough.
  • Granulating wounds: look raw and red. These wounds have a highly vascularized, raised appearance due to the growth of new blood vessels, skin cells, and connective tissues.
  • Epithelializing wounds: usually appear as pink and translucent tissue regrowth in the wound bed.

Considerations

Dermatology Specialists of Atlanta considers the wound’s location; healing stage; tissue involved; wound color; exudate color, viscosity, and amounts; surrounding skin condition; duration of the wound (acute or chronic); and the patient’s general health before recommending treatment options. Healing deep and chronic wounds is a complex task, and the therapies used aren’t “one-size-fits-all.” Some patients require multiple therapies to accomplish proper wound healing. The treatment plans always considers both short and long-term patient goals.

Laser Therapy

Laser therapy used to heal wounds takes advantage of both low and high-intensity types. Dr. Kathleen J. Smith positions the laser over the wound. The laser’s photon energy emits pulses of light that promote healing and recovery of the patient. Heat from the laser promotes circulation to the wound site, and this also helps the patient heal. Most wounds, from injuries to the musculoskeletal system to those resulting from chronic illnesses, respond to laser treatments. This procedure type is effective because the body’s own natural healing processes are promoted from the inside out. The therapy stimulates the production of natural painkillers called endorphins; spurs the body’s creation of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps to increase feelings of well-being; and promotes the production of inflammation-fighting cortisol from the adrenal glands.

According to researchers at the University of Virginia, ninety percent of patients in need of wound therapies choose laser therapy over surgical procedures. Many patients don’t require additional medications along with laser therapy, so the patient’s toxic load is reduced. Few patients experience negative side effects from this type of wound healing treatment.

Treatment

Healing a deep wound requires multiple laser treatments. According to the Harvard University School of Medicine, patients may require a dozen or more treatments to achieve healing. Some patients receive multiple therapies each week to keep healing on track. Many patients also report that this type of treatment helps to reduce their pain levels. Patients who prefer to use less amounts of surgery or drugs may prefer this treatment type.

UAW Therapy

A patient’s surgeon may sometimes tell him or her that additional surgery is needed to deride the wound. However, most patients prefer non-surgical options if they are available. UAW, like laser therapy, is a non-invasive treatment that uses sound waves. The dermatologist places the ultrasound probe-wand directly on the wound’s surface. Then irrigation liquid is delivered through the tip of the probe. The liquid flushes and treats the deep wound. Since the tissue of the wound site is always weak when compared to healthy skin, UAW pulsing liquefies damaged skin cells and debris and doesn’t harm healthy tissue. Ultrasound waves stimulate cellular activity and speeds the healing of wounds.

Treatment

The amount of time needed to treat the site depends upon the dimensions of the wound. Treatments can take minutes to several hours. According to Johns Hopkins University researchers, patients experienced less pain with UAW than with surgical tools. Since the treatment requires only a topical anesthetic, patient’s aren’t required to submit to general anesthesia.

Conclusion

Patients in need of wound management and healing therapies want resources, and there are many treatment options available today. Dermatology Specialists of Atlanta, a triple board-certified dermatology and dermopathology practice, can deliver the skills and experience needed by patients with all types of skin conditions and illnesses. Dr. Kathleen J. Smith is available to patients in the greater Atlanta area, including North Atlanta, North Decatur, Doraville, Panthersville, Redan, and Druid Hills-North Druid Hills, GA at 678-904-4932.

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