Jay Leno sustained significant burns to his face, hands and chest in an accident on Saturday. But while the legendary comedian's already undergone at least one surgery and will undergo another procedure later this week, the former Tonight Show host's surgeon says he expects Leno to make a full recovery.
Dr. Peter Grossman, a renowned expert in the comprehensive treatment of burn injuries and director of the prestigious Grossman Burn Center at West Hills Hospital in Los Angeles, spoke to ET's Will Marfuggi about the 72-year-old's status and the road to recovery.
Leno sustained "significant injuries" in the accdent and while he doesn't want to minimize the seriousness of said injuries, Grossman says he also wants to emphasize that Leno's "doing very well."
"He's got a very strong attitude. He's a very strong individual," Grossman tells ET. "And he's a person who really is looking to move forward, to try to find a way to get past this episode of his life and to get back to what he normally likes to do, which is to be out there and entertain and be with the people. I think at some point soon he'll get there, but I've had to tell him that, for the time being, he needs to sit back and take care of Jay."
Leno, while working on a classic car over the weekend, suffered third-degree burns after a fuel leak triggered gasoline to spray on his face and hands. The situation turned dire after a spark triggered an explosion, setting the comedian on fire.
When asked to give what percentage of his face suffered burns, Grossman said "burns included the lower half of his face, his cheeks and his chin and his ears and his neck."
The recovery process, so far, includes Leno undergoing hyperbaric oxygen therapy twice a day, an hour in the morning and another hour in the afternoon. Leno also underwent his first surgery earlier this week, in which he was put to sleep to remove unhealthy tissue as a result of the burns.
The surgery can be grueling, to say the least, depending on the severity of the burns. The unhealthy tissue, Grossman said, is either scrubbed down or shaved down. He added that deeper burn areas are removed more aggressively. But, once the unhealthy tissue is removed, a temporary biological dressing is applied.
Grossman explained that in Leno's situation, human cadaver skin is used "to create an environment in which his body can be stimulated to heal, but that's only temporary. It has to be removed. And then, ultimately, he'll need a definitive layer of tissue to help him heal as quickly as possible with as minimal, negative effects. And that’s what our game plan is going forward."
Grossman said it's "a little bit premature" to determine how many more surgeries Leno will require in his recovery process or how long he'll need to stay at the burn center, but the surgeon's hope is that Leno will be home sooner rather than later.
As far as any permanent disfigurements as a result of the injuries, Grossman again reiterated it's too soon to tell.
"It's too early to tell what's going to happen. It's always possible in burn injuries, especially when you have significant damage from the situation as he did," Grossman said. "Hopefully with aggressive care and a little bit of good luck we’ll be able to get him through this with minimal long-term effects."
The good news? Grossman says Leno's been "very compliant with whatever we ask him to do" and he's in such high spirits and been incredibly kind and appreciative to the nursing staff and everyone that's been taking care of him.
In fact, Grossman said Leno's joked with the staff and even delivered cookies to some of the pediatric patients at the center.
He added, "We've been very appreciative of what he's done to lighten the environment here in the burn center."