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Advanced techniques used to save patient's face

Concord Hospital Burns Unit praised for incredible work.

Doctor checking up on a patient who is lying in bed
SydneyConnect image:  Professor Peter Maitz checking David's progress

David Roger has nothing but praise for the staff at Concord Hospital, whose innovative techniques in dealing with burns injuries helped save his face from significant scarring.

David, 79, was injured while using a small butane gas bottle to power a blow torch, which he was using to strip paint from his house at the end of January.

The tank exploded and sent scorching hot flames into the music teacher's face, arms and hands. He had significant burns and was rushed to Concord's world-renowned burns unit, where he underwent surgery within 24 hours of the event.

"Funnily enough, I wasn't in pain then, but little did I know that that was a bad sign because it had burned through two layers of nerves, so I couldn't feel pain," he told The Sunday Telegraph, which recently featured David’s story.

While in surgery, David had something quite extraordinary put on his face.

"We cleaned up his face, I would say quite aggressively, and we put an artificial skin under which his face healed without visible scarring and hopefully without painful memories," Professor Peter Maitz, Head of the Burns Unit, told the Telegraph.

The artificial skin is a nylon product made partly of pig tendons' proteins.

Once fitted onto the affected area, the artificial skin tricks the body into thinking everything is normal and there is no burn, thus reducing the excruciating pain that comes with this degree of burn.

The artificial skin was removed ten days after it was applied, and the results were incredible - not a sign of scarring. David's wife thinks he looks ten years younger.

David gushed about his treatment by all the staff at Concord Hospital.

"They are amazing people, all of them," he said of the doctors, nurses and allied health staff.

"I can't thank them enough for what they have done for me."

While he was doing everything right when using the gas cylinder, he still has a warning for other home handypersons.

"Guys, please be very careful using these products and wear the appropriate gear. I was following all the safety instructions, I wasn't doing anything silly, and this still happened," he told the Telegraph.

Concord Hospital's burns unit is a specialist referral centre for adults in NSW with a burn injury and plays a significant part in the Statewide Severe Burn Injury Service. The advanced facility includes the Burn Scar Clinic and Skin Laboratory and also provides telehealth services for regional areas.