October 04, 2018 | Jeff Trail

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Flexible Materials Preferred in Wound Care and Closure


In wound care management, the primary objective is complete healing. This is attained through thoughtful planning of patient care for reducing the loss of necessary fluids from the wound, accelerating wound healing, and minimizing pain and infection.

Flexible materials and dressings are preferred for these reasons -- and many more -- for use in wound care and closure. Advances in flexible materials for healthcare applications have improved their effectiveness over traditional wound care and closure methods. Their unique properties help both the caregiver and patient alike, making them the first choice of both to aid healing and improve outcomes.


Caregivers Opt for Flexible Materials

For wounds to heal properly, they need a consistent supply of oxygen, nutrients, enzymes, and cells. After the wound bed is prepared, applying the appropriate dressing is critical to wound care and healing. Practitioners choose a dressing based on the type of wound and the characteristics of the ideal dressing:

  • Creates a clean, moist, warm environment
  • Provides hydration if dry or desiccated
  • Protects the wound and surrounding tissues
  • Removes excess exudates
  • Conforms to wound shape and body part
  • Impermeable to microorganisms
  • Non-toxic and non-irritating
  • Easy to use
  • Minimal pain during application and removal
  • Cost-effective

Healthcare practitioners today have a widely expanded variety of flexible wound care materials from which to choose. Providers in various medical and surgical specialties are relying on new forms of flexible materials for better success rates and improved patient outcomes.


Polyester Mesh for Wound Closure in Primary Knee Arthroplasty

This study published in Orthopedics, reports on the use of a topical self-adhering, pressure-sensitive polyester mesh dressing combined with 2-octyl cyanoacrylate adhesive for final skin closure of primary knee arthroplasty without external staples or sutures. Direct closure simplified and expedited the procedure, promoted better healing, and also resulted in a significant reduction in patient readmissions.

No Sutures, No Scars

ClozeX is a simple solution to wound and incision closure. Comprised of a layered arrangement of transparent film that, when released in a 3-step process under tension, draws the edges of the wound together. It received the Medical Design Excellence Award in 2005 and is growing in popularity today -- especially in treating lacerations in children who fear needles.



Bioink-based "Skin" Replicates the Structure of Human Skin

Researchers in Spain have created a prototype of a 3D bioprinter capable of mass-producing human skin -- complete with a layer of epidermis and a thicker, deeper dermis layer. The two main applications are scientific testing of new compounds in 'human scenarios' (eliminating the ethical issues connected with animal testing) and creating skin transplants for burn patients.


Patients Prefer Flexible Materials and Dressings

Patient compliance is a crucial aspect of successful outcomes in medical treatment. Advances in flexible materials have significantly improved compliance and, by extension, quality of life for patients.

Patients are much more likely to follow a doctor's orders and complete their treatment plans because the dressings available today are:

  • easy to apply
  • non-reactive and non-irritating
  • painless upon removal
  • "smart" - they can deliver medication to the wound and monitor healing
  • longer-lasting and need fewer changes


Flexible Bioelectrics Emerging in "Smart Bandage" Field

What began with bandages embedded with medicine to treat wounds has progressed to something much more sophisticated for the future of chronic wound care. The U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) is supporting a research team as they combine advances in biomaterials, sensors, tissue engineering, microsystems technology, and microelectronics. Their goal is to create smart bandages for wounds that need ongoing care - such as diabetic ulcers, burns, and bed sores.



Bandages that Detect Infection

A German research team created a bandage that looks like any other adhesive bandage but changes color when it detects an alkaline skin pH. (Healthy healing wounds have a pH of about 5-6). A group of researchers from the US, South Korea, and Germany has developed a liquid bandage that can monitor and map oxygen concentrations in burns and other skin wounds. This is a significant advancement over current methods used to assess wounds because it is non-invasive and therefore painless.



Challenges remain in the research and development of this new flexible medical technology. Doctors involved in the research point out that some of the technologies involve disciplines that don't always coordinate, so integration is a crucial factor to be addressed. Moreover, tests continue to determine the safety and effectiveness of these products before they become available for human use. However, the future looks very promising, and it appears the next generation of bandages will be smarter, safer, and deliver better outcomes -- making them the preferred option for practitioners and patients alike.


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