Acid burn survivor recovering well after life-enhancing surgery

“Procedure to improve range of movement went well”: plastic surgeon

Wednesday, October 14 2015

Acid burn survivor Ines Antonio is recovering well in Netcare Linksfield Hospital following the first of two surgical procedures aimed at extending her range of movement and thereby improving her quality of life.

“I am gratified to report that the surgery went according to plan,” plastic and reconstructive surgeon Dr Gabriel Doucas said after completing the surgery on Tuesday.

The severe chemical burns Ines suffered caused the skin of her neck, lower lip and both underarms to contract considerably, greatly impeding her movement.

Dr Doucas says: “After making the incisions on her armpits, we used her own skin as flaps to give Ines more freedom of movement. As for the part of the procedure involving her neck, so far it seems that she will regain as much mobility as we could have hoped for.”

Dr Doucas volunteered his time in undertaking two functional surgical procedures at Netcare Linksfield Hospital to surgically release the tight scar tissue. The Netcare Foundation is covering Ines’s theatre and hospital costs, as well as her rehabilitation costs for the time she will be in the care of Netcare Rehabilitation Hospital.

Dr Doucas explains that the anaesthetist, Dr Yasmin Ibrahim who also volunteered her time for Ines’s operation, played a vital role in the procedure: “Because of the nature of the patient’s injuries, there were a number of potential challenges in terms of anaesthesia that we needed to be prepared for.”

“Scar tissue complicates the anaesthetic part of the procedure because it makes it more difficult to access the airway. Preparations took a little longer than usual because we needed to mitigate any potential risks. We also had to bring the patient round from the anaesthetic very gradually, taking special precautions to protect her compromised airway,” Dr Doucas elaborates.

Dr Ibrahim and a fellow anaesthetist who assisted her made certain that every emergency intubation option was available in the event of any difficulties, including having additional specialised equipment on hand.

Ines had a special request for Dr Doucas, which was not initially meant to be part of the procedure. “She asked whether it would be possible to fix her right nostril, which had been narrowed considerably from the acid burn. This meant that the operation took a little longer, but it will make a positive and lasting difference to Ines’s life,” he notes.

The surgery took two and a half hours, while theatre time including anaesthetic preparations added another hour to the duration of the procedure.

Netcare Linksfield Hospital general manager Dr Erich Bock said that Ines was recovering well on Wednesday morning, the day after her operation.

"She seems to be doing exceptionally well and is very positive. In the clinical interest of her recovery, however, she is not yet in a position to grant media requests for interviews.”

In a few weeks, Ines will undergo a second procedure at the hospital to remove a layer of Integra, which is a highly advanced skin substitute material that was used to cover the neck area exposed during Tuesday’s procedure.

The Integra Dermal Regeneration Template, sponsored by Baroque Medical, consists of two layers; an inner layer of fibres that integrate with the body and an outer thin silicone film. It is this silicone layer that will be removed during the second procedure in the weeks to come.

Issued by: Martina Nicholson Associates (MNA) on behalf of Netcare Foundation
Contact: Martina Nicholson, Graeme Swinney and Meggan Saville
Telephone: (011) 469 3016
Email: [email protected], [email protected], or [email protected]