Surgeries that treat burn injuries can cause a considerable amount of pain. The pain after burn surgery may be sharp and acute, ever-present, dull and chronic, or accompanied by burning and itching sensations – or a combination of several types of pain. Burn patients who have to undergo surgery will need a solid pain management plan to help them cope with their symptoms in the aftermath of the accident.

How do surgical procedures cause pain?

The three most common surgical procedures used for burn injuries are debridement, skin grafting, and dermabrasion, all of which tend to be very painful.


One of the first things the doctors must do to a burn wound is debride it, a process that involves cleansing the wound and removing dead tissue and foreign debris. Doctors may remove large, painful blisters during debridement, as well. If touching a burn is painful, tissue removal around a wound site can be excruciating.

In many cases, a local anesthetic is necessary for the procedure. Some severe cases call for general anesthesia. 

Skin grafting

Skin grafting, a type of transplant surgery, involves removing healthy skin from a donor site on the patient’s body and transplanting it to the burn injury to close the wound. Patients experience pain at the burn site from the transplant, the natural healing process, and the surgical staples that doctors may need to use.

They also have a lot of pain at the donor site – often more so than at the burn site. Donor sites are the “principal source of increased postoperative pain complaints, rather than the grafted burn,” explains the International Society for Burn Injuries.


Burn patients with scarring may elect to get dermabrasion, a surgical procedure that essentially sands away the top layer of scarred skin. During this process, doctors use an instrument called a dermabrader to surgically scrape the skin to improve the appearance of the scars. After the surgery, the skin will be red, painful, achy, itchy, swollen, and very tender.

In addition to the actual surgical procedures, many post-op activities can cause pain, such as changing dressings after surgery, removing staples, and routine wound cleanings.

What are some ways I can manage the post-op pain?

Your surgeon and burn care team will be able to recommend treatments and methods that can help manage your pain after surgery.

These can include:

Is there anything else I should know about pain after surgery?

Surgery and the care plan afterwards can bring significant costs, even for those with health insurance. In addition to the medical bills, patients may lose time from work, suffer setbacks that prevent them from returning to work, and more. This can all add up to create a significant financial burden.

Burn patients whose injuries are the result of another party’s negligence have legal options available that can help them get compensation for their injuries. You may be able to collect compensation for not only your surgeries and other medical bills, but also the pain and suffering you experience. Call our lawyer referral specialists at 844-549-8774 for help finding a lawyer.