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In my world, roughly equivalent to present day earth, a secret experimentation program has succeeded in creating a genetically engineered super-soldier, more by accident than skill. No magic or anything - just pure dumb experimental luck (after many, many failures. These people have no morals). Of course, their success means their imminent destruction, as this guy they created doesn't like being experimented on, and they have no way to control him, but that's beside the point :)

One of the genetic enhancements this guy has is rapid healing. Similar to wolverine of the X-Men, except that in this case the healing works in every way the same as a normal human healing, only at a much more rapid pace - even the worst injuries heal in a matter of minutes. That, of course, has some negative side effects - for example, if a broken bone isn't set immediately (no adimantium in this world, so bones will break just as easily as ever), it will heal crooked, just as if a broken bone wasn't set in a normal person - only way faster. A lost limb wouldn't grow back, but the stump would heal over before he could bleed to death from it.

One thing I'm not sure of though is what sort of toll such healing would take on the body? Presumably healing uses resources from the body - I would assume, for example, that healing a bone would use calcium and other minerals. Normally such healing is spread out over a long enough time that said resources could be replenished by normal consumption, but in his case it all happens at once, which presumably could drain the body of needed resources.

Is there some level of injury at which the body wouldn't have enough resources to complete the healing? What would happen then? For more minor injuries, how much, if any, effect would the rapid healing of those injuries have, for example leaving him tired or hungry? Would it be possible for him to die of an otherwise non-fatal wound because of the rapid healing "draining" him too much, such that organs start shutting down?

Edit: Lets say that he was in the lab for a while being experimented on before breaking out and destroying it, during which time the scientists were running experiments to test his limits. As such, he would learn from them what effects to expect, and what he would need to do to deal with them (since obviously the scientists don't want him to die, since he is their first success and they don't really know why he worked). How would that knowledge gleaned from the tests change things?

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marked as duplicate by Aify, JDługosz, SRM, James, Mołot Jan 20 '17 at 23:03

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

  • $\begingroup$ @aify: yeah, that does look similar. Didn't see that one. Thanks. $\endgroup$ – ibrewster Jan 20 '17 at 18:12
  • $\begingroup$ One slight difference between this and the other question: the other one uses "magical" external help to speed things along. In my case, it's natural and internal, just due to genetic modification. Probably doesn't make a huge difference, however - it's just the caveats pointed out there that are solved by the external "help" would in my case need to be solved by additional genetic modifications. $\endgroup$ – ibrewster Jan 20 '17 at 18:24
  • $\begingroup$ Changing questions to invalidate already posted answers is generally not accepted on Stack Exchange. Please don't do that. If answer makes you realize you wanted to ask something slightly different, you're free to ask another question. $\endgroup$ – Mołot Jan 20 '17 at 18:35
  • $\begingroup$ @molot: The answer as posted allows for my edit: "If he knows some biology or something he may realize that his body is expending a lot of resources and try to eat accordingly". That was a good point, so I figured I'd call it out in my question as to how he would have gained such knowledge. $\endgroup$ – ibrewster Jan 20 '17 at 18:40
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Well, I am no biology major, but as a nurse I would like to think I know something about healing (natural and aided).

TL;DR: There's more going on than 'acceleration'. You need to consider the nutrients needed to maintain this new system, and the speed at which 'fresh nutrients' are absorbed.

First let's start with the 'normal' healing rate, and why it's so comparatively slow -- ignoring that many (most?) species heal at an even slower rate than humans do. Depending on the injury, you need to look at the damage done. So, here's some injuries and how the body naturally deals with it.

  • Subcutaneous blood clot

    Most commonly called a bruise. What happens is the capillaries (hair thing blood vessels) are damaged and 'bleed' into the surrounding area. That coalescence of blood, as it clots, is the 'black' spot we recognise as a bruise. In order to heal, the body needs to use white blood cells to wrap around the damaged capillaries and then slowly eat away at the clotted blood (and other uninvited guests; bacteria, waste, you name it) This tends to take days, because every white blood cell must take a single chunk of the entire clot, which kills the white blood cell and forces the body to make more. Let alone the resources used to rebuild the damaged capillaries. Tiny they may be, but there are so many of them, so much scattered about our body. See for yourself just how vital these tiny things are.

  • Bruised bones

    People don't like talking about this specific topic. Why? Because everyone I've spoken to would rather a broken rib than a bruised one. This is, however, an injury that I have very little experience with (personal and/or professional). All I have is second hand stories. Check out this link for more.

  • Fractured/broken bones

    This is where things start getting complicated. Most don't realise that bones are living tissues we depend on. That bones need blood flow, and have blood vessels as well. However, another more critical thing people overlook is how bones heal. Bone fractures and broken bones are actually the same thing, medically. Though people call them differently. There are so many types that it's impossible for me to explain it all, but the takeaway is the most common healing tactic: bone 'knots'.

Healing process of broken bones

Notice the two 'bulges' on either side of the break. This is to help create new 'bone tissue', which is later 'dissolved' to leave a 'new bone'. The fresh tissue is weaker than the rest of the bone, and it will take time and training (physical therapy) to help it almost become as strong, but anyone with a broken bone knows it never grows as strong as the rest of the bone. Re-breaks and re-fractures are common, especially just after taking off the cast.

  • Bruised organs

    Fun stuff that. Most commonly in conjunction with a cracked or broken bone in the same area, but not always. My most recurring experience is via chemical means (don't ask, you probably don't want to know). Though it's most commonly called a 'contusion' in medical terminology, it's not fun to deal with as a patient or a nurse. Just look at this example, and you'll see what fun awaits.

  • Losing blood via wound

    The most common worry is 'bleeding out' or exsanguination, but there are far more troubling things going on. There's the lowering of the core body temperature, the loss of nutrients, and the cost of replacing all the blood cells lost. Not fun. What's worse is the risk of infection, which the body tends to pre-emptively combat by washing out the wound site with blood (yeah, don't lick wounds, it's a bacteria festival). Usually blood loss is naturally stopped by the blood plasma hardening and creating a protective layer (which later becomes a 'scab', with other fun stuff attached). Other than natural means, there are dozens of ways to stop the bleeding, but that's the only natural one.

  • Internal bleeding

    I'm not making any friends at all, am I? Yeah, everyone knows the stories from that medical show they watch, or film, or what have you. What most don't realist is how silently deadly this is. The body is riddled with little pockets where the blood can accumulate, and they are all at risk of killing everything around them if too much blood builds up. The most deadly? Cerebral haemorrhage. Why? Other than the already present risks of blood loss (and even when lost internally, lost blood is lost), the build-up can create unwanted pressure on the surrounding tissue, blocking other blood vessels, and causing entire sections to 'starve' via malnutrition.

  • Blocked arteries/veins

    This is where things become insidious. Because every step before this can lead to this, when would then lead to something more. Every time the blood clots, the white blood cells need to 'eat' the clot, after becoming aware of it of course. If it takes too long? The clot can get somewhere and get jammed, blocking blood vessel its in. These blood clots are called different things depending on where they are located (am I the only one that pays attention during an episode of 'House'?) but the more commonly known of the bunch causes a stroke (located in the brain). Now, this can be a minor incident (TIA) or a far more serious CVA, but neither is desired.

The point I am trying to make through all this? It's far more complex than 'speeding it up'. You'd have to find a way to speed up each of these processes, and do so without creating a creature that won't buckle under the strain of the over-hyped craving for nutrients (they might starve to death while eating a meal, because of how 'slow' the body absorbs nutrients).

Personally, if you were to through with this? Either get into the science behind it (biology, physiology, pathology), or try to steer clear of the STEM junkies that gorge on these details during any work of fiction, and are often left wanting.

I would like to put more, but LORD! My poor brain and fingers are worn out:P

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Sickness

By using up resources from the body to heal wounds he will be missing important nutrients, so if he doesn't eat carefully he will get sick and may die as well.
If he was just a normal person the scientists took from the street to experiment on then he is as good as dead after he regenerates a few times, since he won't even know that his body will be missing nutrients.
However if he knows some biology or something he may realize that his body is expending a lot of resources and try to eat accordingly.

Faint / Frostbites / Hypothermia

When he regenerates he will also use a lot of energy which might make him faint.
All the energy he uses might also make the body "take away" energy from the extremities and even frostbite them and they may not heal again and have to be amputated. Finally if a lot of energy is used up he might go into hypothermia and die.

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  • $\begingroup$ Let's say he learned from the scientists who were experimenting on him, as they did tests to figure out his limits :-) $\endgroup$ – ibrewster Jan 20 '17 at 18:07
  • $\begingroup$ @ibrewster Well, that is a good point. If the scientists were experimenting on him then he must have overheard them talking about the nutrients problem and how to counter it. $\endgroup$ – user31746 Jan 23 '17 at 9:39

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