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Spray-on skin treatment revolutionizes burn care

Aug. 4, 2022

Aurora, Colo. (Aug. 4, 2022) – Spray-on skin, also known as ReCell, is becoming more widely used at UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital Burn and Frostbite Center to treat burn patients and spare them the pain of dozens of skin grafts.

“It has revolutionized burn care and is one of the few pieces of technology to bring burn care into the 21st century,” said Dr. Arek Wiktor, surgeon and medical director at UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital Burn and Frostbite Center.

To use the technology, a surgeon will take a small skin sample from a patient’s body. This sample is processed in a machine in the operating room to create a solution of skin cells, and the cells are then sprayed on the burn to help the affected area regenerate and form a new layer of skin. The concept is similar to that of planting seeds in a garden.

This type of treatment is available for eligible patients who suffer deep second-degree burns and third-degree burns. Prior to this advancement in treatment, the standard care to treat those types of serious burns is a skin graft. Skin grafts are still widely used to treat burn patients, however spray-on skin lessens pain during recovery and plays a critical role in healing.

“Skin grafts are painful. You have to shave off the top layer of skin to replace the skin that is burned. Using this spray-on treatment has reduced patients’ pain because we aren’t doing daily dressing changes. It also eliminates having to do larger skin grafts on other parts of the patients’ bodies,” said Dr. Wiktor.

If a patient suffers from second degree burns, it typically takes three to four weeks for the patient to heal. Using spray-on skin allows the patient to eliminate about a week of recovery time, with a healing timeframe of just 10 to 14 days.

15-year-old Louk Thomas suffered third-degree burns to more than 30 percent of his body after an accident around a campfire back in February. The New Mexico teen was airlifted to UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital Burn and Frostbite Center where he underwent nearly a dozen surgeries.

“Louk suffered burns to a significant portion of his body—his legs, torso, hands and face. I truly believe that if they used skin grafts instead of the spray-on skin on his face, he’d be unrecognizable. The scarring on his face is much thinner and smoother. People can look at him and know he’s the same Louk he was before the accident,” said Candace Herrera, Louk’s mother.

Louk is still recovering but is now back to pursuing his passion—participating in rodeos. His first day back riding since the accident was on the 4th of July. Louk’s love for country music and optimism from his hospital bed even caught the attention of Tim McGraw who sent over a personalized video wishing Louk the best during his hospital stay.

More than 2,500 patients were seen and treated in the UCHealth Burn and Frostbite Center last fiscal year. The center is also the first and longest established American Burn Association verified center in the Rocky Mountain region.

To learn more about how to treat burns or to learn more about the burn center, visit our website.

Click here for available b-roll.

Click here for the raw interview with Dr. Wiktor.