Mathematicians simulate the formation of burn scars

burn scars


TU Delft PhD candidate Daniël Koppenol developed a mathematical model for the simulation of burn scar formation. He collaborated closely with plastic surgeons of the RKZ Burn Centre Beverwijk and VUmc to develop the model. Koppenol: ‘If we can learn to accurately predict how a wound will heal, we can use a treatment that minimises the formation of scar tissue.’

Koppenol focused his research on so-called hypertrophic scars – thickened, often red and very rigid scars that hurt, itch and can restrict movement. These scars are a very frustrating complication that arises relatively often in the case of burns suffered by young people between the ages of 20 and 30, and especially in the case of burns suffered by people with dark skin. Daniël Koppenol’s model is an important step towards the development of models that can predict how a burn will heal.

A versatile mathematical model

Koppenol’s research is part of his doctoral programme. Koppenol: ‘I want to eventually work towards the creation of a versatile mathematical model that can accurately predict various properties of the healing process of burns and bedsores. These properties can include the degree of contraction and thickening of the affected skin during the healing process, the elasticity of the newly formed tissue, the level of blood circulation in the new tissue, and the chance of infection.’

In its infancy

For his doctoral thesis, Koppenol worked with, among others, the plastic surgeons Professor Paul van Zuijlen (VUmc and RKZ Burn Centre Beverwijk) and Dr Frank Niessen (VUmc). Koppenol: ‘I am very excited to be able to make a contribution to the field of medicine with mathematics. The collaboration between the fields of mathematics and biology/medicine is still in its infancy, but it offers many opportunities. The future is promising.’

More information
Daniël Koppenol recently published an article on his research in Biomechanics and Modeling in MechanobiologyA mathematical model for the simulation of the formation and the subsequent regression of hypertrophic scar tissue after dermal wounding.

Daniël Koppenol’s research is funded by the Nederlandse Brandwondenstichting (Dutch Burns Association). His PhD supervisor and co-supervisor are Professor Kees Vuik and Dr Fred Vermolen of the Numerical Mathematics department, EEMCS faculty, TU Delft.