“A wrong is being righted”, according to the vet who has been giving his time to treat a filly injured in a suspected acid attack.

Dave Rendle, of Rainbow Equine Hospital, said coloured pony Cinders, who came into the team’s care on 24 April with horrific facial burns, underwent further surgery on Friday (25 May).

For the past three weeks, since a specialist vet flew in from the US to help the team at Rainbow Equine operate on Cinders, her dressings had been changed daily and removed in stages as she healed beneath it.

“Most of the damaged areas have healed but on either side of her face and around her eyes she has been left with bands of scar tissue,” Mr Rendle said.

“Scar tissue always contracts and the contraction of tissue on Cinders’ face caused distortion of her eyelids and muzzle. Her eyelids had become pulled out of line and her top lip was being pulled upwards exposing her teeth and gums.

“The scarring did give Cinders a very endearing smile but the contracture was getting gradually worse, so she underwent a third surgery.”

Areas that had not completely healed were grafted, while those that had been distorted by scar tissue were debrided and released, to allow her muzzle and eyelids to move into more normal positions.

To prevent further contracting, skin grafts were placed within the releasing incisions, so new skin can grow across the gaps to stop them closing.

“Within 30 minutes of the end of surgery, Cinders lifted her head, looked around and simply stood up, unflustered by her third general anaesthetic,” Mr Rendle said.

“Half an hour later, she was back in her stable enjoying her lunch.”

Mr Rendle said Cinders was bright overnight, and “demonstrating her usual voracious appetite”, and that by the next morning, it was clear her features were in more normal positions.

“Both her face and her back [from which the skin grafts were taken] will be sore but with the help of the mixture of pain medications her attitude, interest in all around her and needless to say her appetite are unchanged as a result of the surgery,” he added.

The biggest issue affecting the success of skin grafts’ adhesion to underlying tissue is infection, which is hard to manage in horses, especially in facial areas as it is hard to cover the surgery sites completely. But the vets at Rainbow are optimistic enough will remain in place to minimise further scarring.

Burns and plastic surgeons from Pinderfields Hospital Trust helped with the surgery, while manufacturer Zimmer lent equipment.

“We are extremely grateful to all the professionals involved from both Rainbow Equine Hospital and Pinderfields who have donated their time to treat Cinders, to Zimmer for the loan of equipment and most of all to the hundreds of people who have made donations to ensure that

Cinders gets the very best of everything,” Mr Rendle said. “A wrong is being righted.

“We will continue to do all we can to ensure Cinders makes the best possible recovery and has a long, happy and pain-free future.”

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