For most of us, whether we simply trip and scrape our knee or suffer serious dermal injuries in a car accident, we heal at a normal pace. The skin, which is an extremely complicated organ, goes through multiple stages while it heals.
- Hemostasis: This stage quite literally means stagnation. The blood vessels constrict and platelets accumulate to form a clot, and a scab forms.
- Inflammation: The second stage of the healing process; its purpose is to prevent infection. During the inflammatory healing stage, histamines are released and allow the blood vessels to dilate and white blood cells to flow freely into the wounded area. Leukocytes come first and are followed by macrophages. This process usually lasts three to four days.
- Proliferation: During this time – anywhere from two days to three weeks – the wound begins to heal by building tissue (including skin and blood vessels). The proliferative stage is broken down into three subphases.
- Granulation: Fibroblasts (cells) travel through the wound and begin to create collagen. The collagen fibers then develop into a web that creates the foundation of healing.
- Angiogenesis: This is the development of new blood vessels.
- Re-epithelialization: New epithelial cells grow from the edges of the wound across the web created by the collagen fibers. A thin layer bridges the wound in 48 – 72 hours.
• Remodeling: Though the wound is now healed, the process continues through remodeling. Remodeling is a constant and continuous alteration and strengthening of the scar tissue. Scar tissue is never as strong as the original skin, but through this last and final phase, the body works to make it as sturdy as possible.
While this process goes smoothly for the majority of us – oftentimes we hardly notice the process – for some, their wounds never heal.