People who have sustained severe burn injuries in an accident suffer intense physical and emotional pain. As victims go through the healing phases of burn injuries, depression, anger and anxiety about their disfiguring scars can set in, and they might begin look for ways to mask their appearance.
It’s important for victims to work with their healthcare team and take every precaution possible to minimize scarring – not only for aesthetic reasons, but also to prevent the stiffness and pain involved with extensive burn scars.
Ways Burn Scars Affect Body Image
Part of our sense of self is connected to our physical appearance. Our outward bodies are not all we are, but they can affect how we feel about ourselves. Burn scars, particularly on highly visible areas such as the face and hands, can damage a person’s body image.
Burn accident victims may experience:
- sadness and grief over their change in appearance;
- anger and resentment about the accident or loss of their abilities;
- immense social anxiety; and
- intimacy problems.
All of these feeling are a natural part of the process after suffering severe, disfiguring injuries. Rest assured, though, that there are ways to start moving toward not only physical, but also mental and emotional healing. You can begin by setting a goal of trying to develop a new positive body image.
Fostering a Positive Mindset
There’s no shame in not liking your appearance or wanting to change it after suffering traumatic burns. It doesn’t mean you’re vain. There are surgeries and cosmetics that may help improve your thoughts about your appearance.
However, as the Model Systems Knowledge Translation Center in Washington, D.C., explains: “Even with the best acute care, rehabilitation and reconstruction, major burns often result in some permanent changes in the way one’s body looks, feels and works. Part of the emotional healing process from burns is learning to accept these changes.”
Try not to let your burns mask your true beauty. To begin to move toward healing from the psychological impact of your injuries, the MSKTC notes you may try to:
- practice acting confidently during social interactions;
- have a prepared response in your head to tell people when they ask about your injuries;
- talk openly to your partner and a therapist about any issues you may be having with intimacy; and
- visit a psychologist or counselor to help you work through your emotions and develop coping mechanisms.
Getting Legal Advice for Burn Accidents
If you were in a burn accident for which someone else may be at fault, speak with an attorney about your legal options. You might qualify for compensation for your damages, including all the mental anguish you’re working through, in addition to medical expenses and lost wages during the treatment, recovery and healing process.