Considered a necessary evil in the healing process, wound debridement can be painful but essential to recovery. It’s often the best way to bolster the healing process when antibiotics and normal wound care methods fail to do the trick.

Wound debridement is the process of removing unhealthy tissue from injured areas. Whether the tissue is dead, infected, damaged or contaminated, removing it from the body leaves only healthy tissue to fight infection and promote healing. Depending on the type and seriousness of the wound, doctors can choose the best method of debridement.

The various forms of wound debridement include:

“Considered a necessary evil, wound debridement can be painful but essential to recovery.”

Surgical debridement

The most aggressive form of wound debridement, according to Wound Source, this process involves removing unhealthy tissue by surgical means. A surgeon or skilled practitioner will use tools such as scalpels, curettes, scissors and forceps to cut away the damaged or dying tissue, careful to preserve the healthy skin.

Biological debridement

This type of wound debridement involves sterile maggots, which are used to digest dead tissue and pathogens. Much like a surgeon would be, the maggots are selective during this process, consuming only unhealthy tissue. They’re placed on the wound bed via a loose bandage or wound dressing, as described by Verywell Health.

Enzymatic debridement

Typically in the form of a solution ointment, these enzymes soften the tissue to make it easier to remove unhealthy tissue during dressing changes. According to Wound Source, enzymatic wound debridement is commonly used in long-term wound care, and sometimes in conjunction with surgical debridement. This is because nurses or caregivers can easily apply the treatment on a daily basis.

Autolytic debridement

Slow and relatively painless, this form of debridement lets the body handle the healing process itself. It often requires frequent dressing changes to keep the wound bed clean and moist, and works for injuries without sign of severe infections or complications.

Mechanical debridement

This wound debridement process utilizes regular dressing changes to facilitate the removal of unhealthy tissue. A layer of moist gauze is applied to the wound, which over time becomes dry and allows the tissue to attach itself to the gauze. When changing dressings, the tissue that adheres to the gauze will leave the affected area entirely. According to Verywell Health, this is also called “non-selective debridement,” as both healthy and damaged tissue can be removed in the process.

While surgical debridement, of course, requires medical assistance, some of these debridement techniques can be completed as part of wound care at home. smartPAC by Advanced Tissue ensures patients have the proper amount of supplies and easy-to-follow video instructions to promote successful healing.