Different types of wounds take different time periods and different care procedures to fully heal but most of them go through similar or same healing stages. In general smaller wounds take less time to heal while larger and deeper wounds requiring more time and more care to fully heal. The whole healing process of the wound depends on many factors such as wound dressings, the attention and care you devote to the wound, the origin of the wound and so on.
All wounds go through four stages of healing:
- Hemostasis Phase
- Inflammatory Phase
- Proliferative Phase
- Maturation Phase
Hemostasis is the first stage of the wound which starts once the blood starts leaking out of the body. The function of the hemostasis phase is to close the wound by clotting. The first step of hemostasis starts when blood vessels constrict to restrict the blood flow. As soon as this happens, platelets stick together in order to seal the break in the wall of the blood vessel. After these mini-phases, coagulation happens and reinforces the platelet plug with threads of fibrin which serve as a molecular binding agent.
Inflammation is the phase that begins right after homeostasis has been achieved. Inflammation is the phase when the injured individual begins to feel the physical consequence of the wound and inflammation, such as swelling pain, heart, and redness. Even though the inflammatory phase in physically unpleasant it’s very important because it’s what prevents infection and controls bleeding.
The proliferation phase is the phase in which the wound begins to be rebuilt with new, healthy granulation tissue. In order for the granulation to be formed, it’s vital for the blood vessels to receive a sufficient supply of nutrients and oxygen. The newly formed tissue is composed of a mixture of extracellular matrix and collagen, which allows for the development of a new network of blood vessels to replace the damaged ones.
The color of the of the granulations tissue is an indicator whether the wound is healing as supposed to. For example, if the tissue has a pinkish or red color it means that it’s getting all the nutrients needed to fully heal. If it’s bluish or dark, it possibly means that the wound either isn’t getting all the needed nutrients, or there is an infection present.
Maturations it the last stage of wound healing, also known as the remodeling phase. In this stage, the collagen is remodeled and the wound fully closes. The cells which were used to remodel the wound and are no longer needed are replaced by apoptosis or programmed cell death. Usually, remodeling happens after 21 days and can continue for a year or more.
Even though the wound looks fully healed in this phase, it’s really important to continue with the treatment as long as prescribed. It’s important to really pay attention to this process, as the inability to progress through these phases can lead to chronic wounds which are a further complication of the patient’s state.