Jay Leno is getting by with a little help from his friends!
ET spoke to Tim Allen, a longtime pal of the former Tonight Show host, after he visited Leno at the Grossman Burn Center in West Hills, where he is recovering after surgery to fix third-degree burns he suffered while working on one of his classic cars at his garage in Burbank last weekend. A fuel leak from the car triggered gasoline to spray on his face and hands, sparking an explosion that set the comedian on fire.
According to Allen, Leno is not only feeling better, he’s looking great too, with The Santa Claus actor telling ET the 72-year-old comedian is “handsome” and “happy,” despite the scary incident.
“Jay is good! He’s feeling better. We took him some car magazines, we did some jokes, which is what we do, we commiserated. His face looks great, it didn’t look all that good to begin with!” Allen quipped. “He’s going with the George Clooney look, you’re gonna be surprised. He’s handsome and he’s happy and the hospital’s doing a great job taking care of him.'”
ET also spoke to Leno’s surgeon, Dr. Peter Grossman, following one of his surgeries last week, about Leno’s status and his road to recovery.
Leno sustained “significant injuries” in the accident and while he doesn’t want to minimize the seriousness of said injuries, Grossman said he also wanted to emphasize that Leno’s “doing very well.”
“He’s got a very strong attitude. He’s a very strong individual,” Grossman shared. “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.”
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.”
Like Allen, Grossman told ET that Leno is in great spirits and has even been cracking jokes with some of the hospital staff during his stay.
Leno’s been “very compliant with whatever we ask him to do,” Grossman noted, adding that the funnyman has been incredibly kind and appreciative to the nursing staff and everyone that’s been taking care of him, even delivering 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.”