Skin contractures are areas of thickened skin or scarring that occur when the elastic tissues of the skin are replaced with tough fibers which make the skin more rigid losing its ability to stretch. Permanent tightening of skin at an area can hinder normal movement of the associated body part. Skin contractures can occur with burns or with the loss of a large area of skin from injury.
Surgical treatment for skin contractures include:
- Z-plasty: This surgery is performed for scar revision. Z-plasty is a technique which redistributes tension on the wound by breaking up the scar into smaller units, making the scar less noticeable. In this technique, two flaps of the skin are replaced with a limb. These limbs arrange themselves to look like a ‘Z’. This may not be used to perform surgeries involving skin burns.
- W-plasty: This is performed on scars that are triangular. W-plasty does not add any extension or length to the scar, but decreases the lateral tension of the scar. This is performed only on scars with excess adjacent skin attached.
Z- and W- plasty surgical techniques give a geometrical impression of the scar on the skin making the scar less noticeable and more natural.