The Three Phases of Wound Healing

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  • 0:01 What Is a Wound?
  • 0:54 First Phase of Wound Healing
  • 2:48 Second Phase of Wound Healing
  • 4:27 Third Phase of Wound Healing
  • 5:19 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

In this lesson, you're going to learn the fundamental facts about the three phases of wound healing. These phases include inflammation, proliferation, and maturation. When you are through, take the quiz to see what you have learned.

What Is a Wound?

Whether it's due to sports, or a medical problem, or maybe an accident like a fall down some steps, you might get a nasty wound. A wound is just an injury to an organ or tissue of the body that results in a disruption of the normal continuity of that organ or tissue. That's a mouthful, but I know you can relate to this because you've certainly had a wound on your skin before. The skin is an organ of your body. The wound, let's just say it was a cut, disrupted the normal cohesion or unity of the skin. The skin was broken, and that's what I mean by a disruption of normal continuity.

That wasn't hard to understand, was it? Probably not. In that case, let's move on to the three phases of wound healing. I promise I'll make it easy on you.

First Phase of Wound Healing

The first phase of wound healing is the coagulation/inflammatory phase. Sometimes, this phase is actually split into two separate phases. However, it's easier to combine it into one because both of the aspects of this phase start to occur at pretty much the same time.

Coagulation is another word for clotting, and inflammation is a local protective response to an injury that helps to dilute, destroy, or wall off the injured tissue or the agent responsible for the injury.

Important signs of inflammation include:

  • Pain
  • Redness
  • Heat
  • Swelling
  • In some instances, a loss of function of the area in question

What happens in this phase is as follows. After you cut your skin, the broken blood vessels of the skin begin to gush out blood. Not good. The body does not want to lose blood. That's why platelets(cells that plug up holes in blood vessels) stick to the damaged blood vessels and initiate a cascade of steps that results in the clotting of blood. The clotting of blood plugs up the holes in the broken blood vessels and the bleeding stops. Yay!

The platelets, as well as other cells, also release chemicals that help attract inflammatory cells called white blood cells into the area. These guys are here to ensure that whatever agent, be it chemical or biological, which has caused the injury or entered into the body as a result of the injury is destroyed or walled off behind a jail-like compound. The white blood cells also release inflammatory compounds that cause you to experience the signs of inflammation I just went over.

Second Phase of Wound Healing

As the inflammation eventually subsides, the second phase of wound healing, the proliferative phase, begins. The inflammatory cells that I mentioned before release compounds called growth factors. These growth factors are ultimately responsible for the formation of granulation tissue. This is a fancy term for tissue formed to repair soft tissue wounds. You can think of it as a natural patch or Band-Aid your body tries to create to protect and repair the wound.

Something else happens during this phase. Remember how I said the first phase can be split into two phases because of overlapping events? Well, pretty much all of these phases of wound healing overlap in some way or another. It's one continuous and overlapping process.

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