Comedian Jay Leno seems to find laughter in anything, and using unconventional methods to heal his face was new material for the jokester.
Leno entered the Burn Center with second and severe second degree burns on his face, chest, hands and left arm and was treated for nine days with every possible treatment available.
Surgeon, Dr. Peter Grossman of the Grossman Burn Center said, “When he came in, his burns were deeper than I had anticipated and in the next 24 hours they became a lot more concerning. Functionally and cosmetically I had serious concerns. Jay ending up with permanent disfigurement was a big worry for me.”
Leno was working on his 1907 White Steam Car inspecting a clogged fuel line, when gasoline spilled on his face and then ignited with a pilot light used to create steam. Suddenly “my face was on fire,” he says.
Dave Killackey, Leno’s friend, who helped pull him to safety recalls Leno being “engulfed in flames…I couldn’t even see his face.”
Dr. Grossman stated that due to Leno’s injuries, he wanted to promote faster healing. So, doctors performed two skin grafting surgeries. In the first, “we shaved off ultra-think slices of the burn off his face and then put human cadaver skin on him as a temporary biological bandage,” Dr. Grossman said. “It tricks the skin to increase blood flow and help the healing process.”
Leno, always joking, said, “I was hoping to get the Clooney face, but that wasn’t available…luckily I didn’t make my money being handsome so that’s not a dealbreaker for me.”
During the second surgery, pig intestine from the lab was used as another biological skin protectant, creating a “closed protective environment” for skin to heal. Once that was completed, the pig skin was shed and Dr. Grossman said, “The skin he has now is all his.”
Leno also was placed in a hyperbaric chamber, which increases oxygen to healthy skin. “If you want to know what sitting in a coffin feels like, that’s it,” leno said.
Dr. Grossman said, “I’m very happy with the outcome, but considering the severity of his injuries, Jay is definitely an outlier. I wasn’t expecting him to heal as quickly as he has so far.”