Wednesday, November 30, 2011

What is Z-Plasty?

Z-plasty is a surgical technique for the removing of non-functional scar tissues. Large scars, usually caused by burn injuries, trauma and past incisions, can be very debilitating, causing not only aesthetic damage but more importantly functional damage, disabled joint movement due to contractures and such.

Z-plasty is performed by creating one central incision and two more incisions that connect to it, thus creating the letter "Z". The lengths and angles formed between the central incision and its side incisions are equal in size. This pattern forms two "triangle" flaps that can be turned over towards one another, creating a new direction to the scar tissue, releasing tissue tension and creating more flexibility of movement to the underlying and surrounding tissues.

Z-plasty is a very effective method of changing the wound's structure, making the scar less apparent. Since one line scars draw more attention to the eye, performing of several Z-plasty procedures can make the scar less noticeable, since it breaks it apart to different lines and directions. Sometimes, when excessive scar tissue is present, such as in hypertrophic or keloid scars, this procedure can remove the extra tissue, thus improving its appearance.

Other indications for a Z-plasty surgery are narrowing of an existing scar, or limiting of scar length, for example in very delicate tissues such as in the face: around the eyelids, lips, etc. Another indication is to change the direction of the scar, so that it "blends" with our natural lines, for example our facial wrinkles, nasolabial fold and neck lines.

One extremely important indication for a Z-plasty is for closing wound tissues, when there is not enough skin to close the tissue with a straight line. The Z-plasty technique allows the surgeon to "create" more tissue to work with, making the body surface of the tissue larger, and by that supposedly "stretching" the tissue.

If you or a close family member has a debilitating scar, you should consult your primary care physician whether or not this type of surgery can benefit you. Your doctor will most likely refer you to a plastic surgeon that specialized in scar remodeling techniques and other scar treatments, and you can decide whether or not you would like to try this procedure. Usually Z-plasties show excellent results, but it very much depends on your age, genetic skin characteristics, medications you take and your medical history. If a genetic predisposition to developing keloid or hypertrophic scars is present, one must realize this surgery might not necessarily help.

Maria Gonzales, a health blogger interested in a wide range of diseases and conditions, including health 2.0, cirugia plastica, liposuccion, rinoplastia, and more.

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