Following a catastrophic burn injury, your doctor may suggest a skin graft to replace scarred tissue or help an open wound heal properly. However, few understand how this process works, much less the added cost that comes with it. When you’re in the middle of recovery and working through a personal injury, you may wonder if you can include skin grafting in your list of damages.
What Is Skin Grafting?
Skin grafting is the process of taking skin tissue from one part of your body and using it to close a wound or repair damaged skin on another part. These procedures are often considered cosmetic, as they can help patients replace scar tissue, and are usually handled by a plastic surgeon. There are two types of skin grafts your doctor may suggest, including:
- Sheet grafts: These grafts are the smaller of the two types of grafts and are often placed over burns on the hands and face. Initially, the graft will appear white, but will steadily turn bright pink as blood flows to the skin. Eventually, it will match the same tone as nearby skin.
- Mesh grafts: Designed to cover large wounds, mesh grafts are more specialized procedures wherein the donor skin is cut in such a way that it can cover a larger area without losing elasticity or resilience. It is often placed in a diamond pattern and will heal in the same way as the smaller sheet grafts.
Skin grafts are common after a burn injury, as most victims of third-degree or higher burns develop extensive scarring that will not heal on its own. These procedures are overseen by a Burn Center team that includes specialists and nurses, and healing takes roughly two weeks. However, while these are common, they are not inexpensive and can become a point of contention during your personal injury claim.
The Cost of Treatment
The price tag attached to a skin graft will depend on the extent of your injuries, the skill and experience of your attending surgeon, any health insurance discounts you may receive, and what methods are used. More advanced, newer skin grafting techniques will often be more expensive, but they can also prove more effective and may be less invasive, meaning you can experience less discomfort while healing.
While there is no set price tag attached to a skin graft, minor sheet grafts may result in several thousands of dollars in bills, whereas a mesh graft can be upwards of $10,000 to $30,000. However, this is only for the skin graft and does not include additional burn treatment such as ER visits, inpatient care, additional surgeries, and the psychological toll of a burn injury. Altogether, your total list of medical bills, both to treat physical and emotional trauma, can be quite extensive. However, you may still want to claim these damages in a personal injury claim if your injuries were caused by a negligent individual.
Can I Include It in my Claim?
While skin grafts are often handled by plastic surgeons, that does not mean they are purely cosmetic. In fact, skin grafts can be placed in one of two categories depending on their role:
Functional skin grafts: These procedures are done to ensure normal bodily functions and are a part of the patient’s overall treatment plan. This can include closing a wound, such as after a failed fasciotomy to cure compartment syndrome or after a third-degree burn.
Cosmetic skin grafts: While they are referred to as cosmetic, these types of skin grafts often involve repairing a disfigurement, such as scarring on the arms, legs, and face. Insurance companies may try to trivialize these procedures, but they can help improve a burn victim’s self-esteem and emotional state after an accident.
Because of the cost of a skin graft, including them in your personal injury claim, however difficult, is also extremely vital. No one should have to live with the constant reminder of a catastrophic injury, and every cost you incurred because of a negligent individual should be included in your list of damages. While some may try to minimize the importance of a skin graft, the procedures are key to ensuring you can fully recover after an accident.
To ensure you can include all of the damages you have suffered in your claim, including scars, disfigurements, and skin grafts, please reach out to the team at Wingate, Russotti, Shapiro, Moses & Halperin, LLP. Our New York burn injury attorneys are experts at negotiating proper settlement offers from at-fault insurance adjusters and are not afraid to take your case to trial to get you the compensation you need to recover. Call us at (212) 986-7353 to schedule a free consultation and get started on your claim.