Johannesburg - Almost a year after little Pippie Kruger had 85 percent of her skin burnt in an accident, she is back in hospital.

But this time it was a relatively simple procedure, compared to what she had been through previously.

On Tuesday night, three-year-old Pippie underwent a 5-flap Z-Plasty at Netcare Garden City Hospital.

This procedure involved removing a scar from under Pippie’s left armpit, which is restricting her movement.

“It’s a special geometric trick,” said Pippie’s surgeon, Dr Ridwan Mia.

He said the surgeons would basically be connecting the elastic skin from either side of the scar and connecting them. This would improve the range of her arm’s movement, said Mia, whose brother Reza Mia was assisting with the surgery.

The operation took about an hour.

“It went very well, no complications. Everything went smoothly,” said Pippie’s dad, Erwin Kruger.

Pippie experienced serious burns on New Year’s Eve when a bottle of gel-lighter fluid exploded. She sustained burns to 85 percent of her body.

In June she had skin grafts which were grown from her own cells in a lab in Boston, Massachusetts.

Erwin and Pippie’s mom Anica played with Pippie while they waited for the operation to begin on Tuesday night, and seemed to be in good spirits.

“The waiting is the worst,” said Erwin.

“I’m used to this waiting by now,” replied Anica.

Her dad whispered in Pippie’s ear and a big grin grew across his daughter’s face.

He dressed her in her pink scrubs, which have the words “Inspiration for miracles” printed across them.

Pippie smiled at her parents, who called her “gorgeous” while they all waited for the operation.

Pippie has become a celebrity, with people stopping her and her parents when they’re out to say hello and wish them well.

“I say it takes me an hour to buy a loaf of bread because everyone wants to stop and say hello and spoil her,” said Anica.

The three-year-old has gained weight since she left rehab on September 14 and has been receiving treatment almost every day.

Three times a week she receives physio, and speech and occupational therapies, and on three separate days she receives more physio and dry needling, which is a therapy similar to acupuncture.

Anica and Erwin both said Pippie was “fluent” before the accident and could name all the animals in her toy collection, both wild and domesticated, and the noises they made.

“Now sometimes she says ‘hello’ or a few words, but not often,” said Erwin.

The parents joke despite this being a difficult time as it has been almost a year since the mishap.

“Pippie for president!” joked Anica during a discussion about the ANC’s conference in Mangaung.

She has spent 185 days in hospital this year and the doctors and her family have grown close over this time.

“We’re like a big family now. There’s not a day that goes past that we don’t chat to each other,” said Anica.

Pippie spent the night in the Netcare Garden City Hospital and her condition will be checked before the doctors decide when she can go home. - The Star