Dr. Van Vliet is the medical director of the Burn Center at Blake Hospital, a position he has held for over 7 years. After his rigorous residency in plastic surgery, he endured further training in the complex and ever-changing field of burn surgery and critical care. His unique training affords him the opportunity to care for and manage critically ill burn victims in the intensive care unit and then to complete all the operations needed to close the burn. Dr. Van Vliet forms life-long relationships with his burn patients as he then applies his reconstructive armamentarium to restore form and function through cutting edge laser techniques and tissue rearrangement.
In the right circumstances, Dr. Van Vliet has become an expert at achieving burn wound healing and avoiding skin grafting. This is done by applying the newest available technology to all of his burn patients. Some of the complex techniques utilized include:
- Human cadaver allografting. This is the application of human skin in order to promote epithelialization, limit pain with dressings and limit the risk of infection
- Skin substitute grafting. Dr. Van Vliet often applies skin from cod fish, cow, pig and sheep. Utilization of these product has revolutionized burn care and through 10 years of experience, Dr. Van Vliet is capable of applying the correct product in the appropriate circumstance.
- Growth factors and stem cells contained in sharks, amniotic and chorionic membrane and human autologous fat. The use of stem cells is a relatively new technique in burn care. The amazing properties of these cells have transformed burn care into the modern era.
In cases where the burn injury is just too deep, Dr. Van Vliet has mastered the art of limiting the amount of donor skin needed to close the wound. This is done with the use of several cutting-edge techniques whereby a small amount of the patient’s own skin is removed and processed either in a lab or right in the operating room to extract and expand the skin cells exponentially. This allows a large surface area of a burn to be grafted with a very small amount of skin. Dr. Van Vliet will use the smallest amount of skin necessary to close the wound!
Finally, burn reconstruction is done with the use of the latest laser techniques, fat grafting and complex surgical tissue rearrangement. Dr. Van Vliet is a member of the American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery and is constantly applying new laser techniques to his burn patients to limit the degree of scarring. In addition, patients will often receive injections of steroids and their own fat in order to restore form and treat complex scars. Finally, function is often restored by geometrically rearranging the scars to lengthen contractures.