Acid burn survivor, Ines Antonio, is recovering well in Netcare Linksfield Hospital following the first of two surgical procedures aimed at extending her range of movement and thereby improving her quality of life.
“I am gratified to report that the surgery went according to plan,” plastic and reconstructive surgeon Dr Gabriel Doucas said after completing the surgery.
The severe chemical burns Ines suffered caused the skin of her neck, lower lip and both underarms to contract considerably, greatly impeding her movement.
A number of potential challenges
Dr Doucas says: “After making the incisions on her armpits, we used her own skin as flaps to give Ines more freedom of movement. As for the part of the procedure involving her neck, so far it seems that she will regain as much mobility as we could have hoped for.”
Read: What you should know about burns
Dr Doucas volunteered his time in undertaking two functional surgical procedures at the Linksfield Hospital to surgically release the tight scar tissue. The Netcare Foundation is covering Ines’s theatre and hospital costs, as well as her rehabilitation costs for the time she will be in the care of the Rehabilitation Hospital.
Dr Doucas explains that the anaesthetist, Dr Yasmin Ibrahim who also volunteered her time for Ines’s operation, played a vital role in the procedure: “Because of the nature of the patient’s injuries, there were a number of potential challenges in terms of anaesthesia that we needed to be prepared for.”
“Scar tissue complicates the anaesthetic part of the procedure because it makes it more difficult to access the airway. Preparations took a little longer than usual because we needed to mitigate any potential risks.
We also had to bring the patient round from the anaesthetic very gradually, taking special precautions to protect her compromised airway,” Dr Doucas elaborates.
Read: How to avoid burns at home
Ibrahim and a fellow anaesthetist who assisted her made certain that every
emergency intubation option was available in the event of any difficulties,
including having additional specialised equipment on hand.
a special request for Dr Doucas, which was not initially meant to be part of
the procedure. “She asked whether it would be possible to fix her right
nostril, which had been narrowed considerably from the acid burn. This meant
that the operation took a little longer, but it will make a positive and
lasting difference to Ines’s life,” he notes.
A second procedure
The surgery took two and a half hours, while theatre time including anaesthetic preparations added another hour to the duration of the procedure.
Linksfield Hospital general manager Dr Erich Bock said that Ines was recovering well the day after her operation. "She seems to be doing exceptionally well and is very positive.
"In the clinical interest of her recovery, however, she is not yet in a position to grant media requests for interviews.”
In a few weeks, Ines will undergo a second procedure at the hospital to remove a layer of Integra, which is a highly advanced skin substitute material that was used to cover the neck area exposed during her procedure.
The Integra Dermal Regeneration Template, sponsored by Baroque Medical, consists of two layers; an inner layer of fibres that integrate with the body and an outer thin silicone film. It is this silicone layer that will be removed during the second procedure in the weeks to come.
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