Busting the Top Three Myths about Wound Healing
Chronic wounds affect more than 5 million people throughout the nation. These wounds don’t heal like others do, lasting three months or longer—even years. A lot of these stem from vascular issues, related to the lower extremities. Some are related to diabetes or other arterial problems. Some are from pressure wounds, past surgeries or infections. There is a variety of reasons for chronic wound issues.
This condition is frightening, but there is hope. We spoke to Joel Wietfeldt, MD, specialist in plastic and reconstructive surgery with Springfield Clinic and co-medical director for the Wound Healing Center at Memorial Medical Center, about chronic wounds and how to separate fact from fiction.
Myth: If a wound will not heal, it’s because you’re not taking proper care of it.
Fact: Chronic wounds are a common occurrence, even when wounds are cared for perfectly.
Dr. Wietfeldt stressed the variable nature of these wounds, saying many are related to underlying health issues or past procedures of ailments. If you’ve taken care of your chronic wound, the lack of healing is not your fault.
Myth: The only treatment for a wound that will not heal is the removal of that tissue.
Fact: Nonsurgical treatment options are available.
Dr. Wietfeldt said multiple treatment options are available for chronic wounds—not just removal. One option is hyperbaric oxygen treatments, which involve a patient being placed inside a large chamber, which is then filled with pure oxygen. Increased pressure is then added to the chamber so the oxygen flows inside the patient’s body to the bloodstream.
Myth: Hyperbaric chambers? Those are just for SCUBA divers.
Fact: While hyperbaric oxygen chambers are used for divers, they are also a major treatment option for chronic wound patients. Some patients express concern about these enclosed spaces, and that the treatment will impede their ability to breath.
“Patients can breathe normally in these chambers. They’re not uncomfortable, and, while these devices can be used as decompression treatments for divers, the extra oxygen helps wounds heal in a more timely fashion,” Dr. Wietfeldt said.
While the wounds themselves can last for years untreated, once treatment begins, an end is in sight.
“Most of our patients are treated for about six weeks,” Dr. Wietfeldt said. “After five or six weeks, many patients with chronic wounds do heal when treated with the advanced modalities available at Memorial Wound Healing Center.”