Every day, more than 30,000 people suffer from
burn injuries around the world, with a significant
percentage of these being facial burns. These
often cause hypertrophic scarring, characterized
by thickened and raised skin that is often both
physically and psychologically damaging. Children
are especially prone to emotional trauma as a
result of facial burns, which can negatively affect
relationships with peers. Dr. Wei Yating of the
Second Affiliated Hospital of Kunming Medical
University has dedicated her research to correcting
hypertrophic scars in young burn victims.
The standard treatment for hypertrophic scars is pressure therapy using a face mask. The mask is usually custom made, which requires making an impression of the patient’s face and then creating a plaster mold. However, this method has several problems. Because this process is long and often painful, many children need to be put under general anesthesia while the mold is made. This can result in an imperfectly fitted mask because lying down changes the shape of the face slightly. Additionally, fabrication is laborintensive and complicated, with a high recast rate. Traditionally-made face masks are also opaque and cover the whole head and neck, drawing unwanted attention to the patient. Dr. Wei wanted to find an alternative face mask that could not only solve these problems, but also improve treatment.