Jay Leno in ‘good spirits’ after injury but faces more surgery for ‘significant’ burns

A white-haired man wearing a coat and tie smiles while standing in front of a Library of Congress backdrop
Jay Leno will undergo another surgery after sustaining second- and third-degree burns over the weekend, his doctor said.
(Brent N. Clarke / Invision / Associated Press)

Jay Leno‘s road to recovery might be longer than he would like as he faces more treatments and another surgery after suffering serious burns while working in his garage over the weekend.

Leno suffered “significant” injuries — a mix of second- and third-degree burns — to his face, hands and chest, Dr. Peter Grossman, the medical director at the Grossman Burn Center in West Hills, said in a press briefing Wednesday. Burns to the comedian’s face are “a little deeper and more concerning,” he added.

“He has undergone one surgery so far,” Grossman said. “He did well with that surgery. He is in good spirits today.”

Grossman shared that Leno first underwent surgical excision and grafting in the affected areas to remove damaged tissue and reduce inflammation. He told the press that he has not seen evidence of nerve damage and expects Leno — who is also being treated with hyperbaric oxygen therapy — to make a full recovery.

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On Monday, Leno told The Times in a statement that he needs “a week or two” to recover from his burns. But healing might take longer than he initially anticipated as he faces another surgery this week.

“Our hope is that when everything is all said and done, he will do well, but burn injuries are progressive and dynamic,” Grossman said. “And it’s hard to predict, ultimately, what the final outcome will be at this stage of the game.”

The “You Bet Your Life” host is in “good” condition and is even socializing with other patients in the burn unit, Grossman added. Grossman said the former “Tonight Show” star has passed out cookies to children at the medical center and that he’s also “walking around and cracking jokes.”

“He seems to be a gentleman who really just does not want to make a big deal of this. He wants to move forward and he wants to get back to work,” Grossman said. “I had to tell him that he needs to step it back a little bit and just realize that some of [this] takes time.”

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People first reported on Leno’s “serious medical emergency” after he canceled his Sunday appearance at a conference in Las Vegas. He received support on social media from fellow Hollywood stars including Josh Gad, Rob Schneider and Ross Mathews. Also sharing well wishes was CNBC, which airs the comedian’s “Jay Leno’s Garage.”

“The CNBC family wishes Jay well in his recovery,” they said Tuesday in an Instagram post.


Times staff writer Jonah Valdez contributed to this report.