While for minor wounds your body can naturally repair itself and remove dead tissue, for more serious or chronic wounds that’s not always the case. When a wound isn’t healing well on its own or responding to the body’s natural immune system, your doctor may recommend wound debridement to help restart the process.
What is Wound Debridement
Wound debridement has been around for more than a decade and has become an integral part of wound management. Wound debridement is the process where a wound care specialist or health care professional removes tissue in order to promote healing and prevent infection. Dead tissue can promote bacteria growth and result in more serious infections. It can also interfere with the growth of healthy tissue. Debridement removes the dead tissue to reduce the risk of further complications and help the healing process.
When is Wound Debridement Necessary?
For acute wounds, the body naturally works to remove dead tissues (a process referred to as autolysis). During the acute inflammatory stage of healing, the body clears out dead tissue and contaminants to allow for healing. However, in chronic wounds, damaged cells get in the way of this process and can require assistance through debridement. Certain conditions such as diabetic ulcers or severe burns can also be good candidates for wound debridement.
While wound debridement can be applied to most types of slow healing wounds, a wound care specialist plays a major role in determining whether wound debridement is needed and what type should be utilized. The process generally starts with a holistic wound care assessment to identify any underlying causes of the wound, anything that could slow the healing process, and establish wound care goals.
Types of Wound Debridement
Depending on your health, the overall risk of complications, and the severity of the wound, there are a number of methods a specialist may use for debridement. In some cases, multiple approaches may be used. Each type of wound debridement has its own benefits and your specialist will work with you to determine the best way to approach your wound. Some of the types of wound debridement used may include:
- Surgical debridement – the wound is carefully examined and dead tissue is removed, leaving viable tissue intact.
- Autolytic debridement – special dressings are applied as the body clears out the wound. This is generally used for more minor wounds that aren’t infected.
- Enzymatic debridement – a synthetic enzyme is applied to the wound to help dissolve dead tissue. Some professionals are cautious of this type of debridement as it could affect healthy skin as well.
- Mechanical debridement – the wound is cleaned through a physical and mechanical process. There are several options for this but can include hydrotherapy using saline solution to remove tissue and bacteria. Other methods include wet-to-dry dressing or monofilament debridement pads.
- Biological debridement – larvae that consume dead tissue and leave healthy tissue are applied to the wound. Many patients are averse to this type of treatment so it is less commonly used.
In some cases, if you have a deep wound a skin graft may be utilized. Skin grafting involves transplanting a piece of tissue to help blood vessels grow and bond the piece to the affected area.
Benefits of Wound Debridement
There are several ways debridement can help a slow healing or chronic wound such as:
- Helping professionals better assess the wound
- Helping healthy tissue grow
- Reducing the risk of infection
- Creating a neat edge to reduce scarring
- Helping pressure ulcers or major burns heal
Preparing For Wound Debridement
While wound debridement is safe, we understand that any type of procedure can be stressful. Being prepared ahead of time and understanding what to expect can help alleviate some of your apprehension. Here are a few tips for how to best prepare yourself before debridement:
- Educate yourself on what to expect, any potential complications as well as benefits.
- Ask your doctor any questions you might have. Find out if there is anything else you should be doing to prepare.
- Communicate any medications or health products you might be using to your doctor.
- Follow dietary guidelines such as avoiding food beforehand.
- Let the doctor know about any allergies you may have.
- If you are taking a blood thinner like aspirin, find out if you should stop taking it beforehand.
- If you are having it done at a wound care center and anesthesia is being used have someone with you to take you home.
Wound Care After Debridement
How long it takes for your wound to heal will depend on how severe the injury is as well as if you have other health conditions that might impair the recovery process. That said, knowing how to care for your wound after debridement can play a crucial role in healing and minimizing the risk of any complications. Your wound care specialist can recommend a care plan to follow but below are a few helpful tips to protect your wound while it heals:
- Remember to regularly change the dressings.
- Try to keep the dressings as dry as possible.
- Wash your hands before and after you touch the wound to keep it clean.
- Avoid placing unnecessary weight on your wound.
- Maintain a healthy diet with the nutrients your body needs to heal.
- Avoid smoking and tobacco which can slow the healing process.
- Schedule follow-up appointments as recommended.
You should contact your doctor right away if you spot any signs of possible infection.
Full Spectrum Wound Care Services
If you or someone you know has suffered a major or chronic wound the specialized physicians and medical staff at our wound care center have the expertise to help. Our center provides a full spectrum of wound and skin care services, including advanced therapies like debridement. We are committed to providing only the highest level of care for our patients in the Fresno and California area and are constantly improving our services to run effectively, compassionately, and professionally.
Don’t wait until your wound becomes worse. Contact West Coast Wound Center and let us help improve your quality of life.
If your wound is preventing you from traveling, our expert team can come to you so you can receive the care and support you need wherever you reside.