Stages of Wound Healing

Stages of Wound Healing

Stages of wound healing involve complex biochemical and physiological functions our body sets in motion as soon as injury occurs. There are four stages of wound healing in all from the initial injury to a completely healed wound. The wound healing process follows a set of steps which can be usually predicted, but sometimes a wound will not heal correctly. This can be due to a chronic medical condition like diabetes, autoimmune disorder, weak immune system, old age and even smoking and alcoholism.

The first stage called hemostasis occurs immediately following a trauma. At this point the body is working hard to seal the wound to stop the bleeding. During this stage, injured blood vessels are constricted and blood is forced to coagulate at the site of the injury to form a physical “plug”. On a cellular level, according to Wikipedia, an initial matrix of future skin is created.

The second phase of healing involves inflammation of the skin tissues and occurs a few hours after the injury. This stage is crucial for proper skin healing and is necessary to eliminate any bacteria or debris that may have entered the injury site. During the initial stages of wound healing you may feel warmth in the tissues as well as pain, and eventually the bleeding will stop and a scab will begin to form.

The third phase is referred in the medical world as proliferative. During this phase, the synthesis of collagen is initiated setting the foundation of new skin. Various cells migrate to the injured site to form new tissues and blood vessels. If something goes wrong in this stage, the increased risk of scarring and disfigurement may occur.

Remodeling (maturation) is the final and one of the most important stages of wound healing. At this point newly formed tissues mature and their strength is increased.

Sometimes debridement of wounds may be necessary. This is a common procedure if the wound is contaminated, if there is dead tissue in the wound, or if the wound will not heal naturally. Debridement can be painful, and this procedure can be done in any of the stages of wound healing after the initial wound is created. In rare cases debridement may not be sufficient, and the entire wound may need to be surgically removed so that normal healing can finally begin. Diabetic wounds can be a challenge when it comes to healing, because poor circulation contributes to tissue that dies off, and prevents the wounds from healing properly.

Problems can happen in almost any of the stages of wound healing, and medical specialists may need to be brought in if you have a wound that will not heal despite proper care and treatments. Pressure ulcers are a common problem, and these wounds can take a long time to heal and require numerous treatments. One advance in wound care is the use of moist wound healing using dressings and other methods. This helps speed up the healing process in many cases, so that all of the stages of healing can finish and the wound will be eliminated.

The stages of wound healing presented here happen in the same order for any type of injury, whether it’s an abrasion, incision, laceration or puncture. However, the healing time will vary depending on the extent of these wounds.