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Skin Grafting for Burns, Wounds & Cancer

What is skin grafting?

Skin grafting is the process of taking healthy skin cells – usually from some site on the patient’s own body – and applying those cells to a burn, wound, or otherwise traumatized area of skin. Typically, skin grafting is considered a reconstructive procedure (as opposed to a cosmetic procedure), as its purpose is to restore function and protection to the wounded area.

Who needs skin grafting?

A skin graft procedure may be done to treat patients with:

  • Chronic infection
  • Complex acute wounds
  • Wound complications
  • Diabetic or pressure ulcers
  • Skin cancer
  • Cysts or lesions on the skin
  • Radiation wounds from cancer treatment
  • Scars from physical injury or surgery
  • Slow-healing or chronic wounds
  • Severe burns resulting in skin loss and damage to heat-sensitive structures
  • Wounds from abdominal hernias

This is not a comprehensive list. If your physician has told you that a skin graft may improve your condition, contact Four Peaks Plastic Surgery at 480-968-2945 for a free consultation.

There are many different types of skin repair procedures. During a skin graft procedure, a patch of skin is taken from one area of the body and transplanted to the area that requires treatment. This procedure is typically done under general anesthesia. The skin graft may be either a full thickness graft or a split-thickness graft. The latter is the more common type. Below, you can learn more about the procedural steps involved in two of the most basic types of graft procedures.

Split-Thickness Skin Graft Procedural Steps

In a split-thickness graft, the surgeon takes the top two layers of skin (epidermis and dermis) from the donor site. The donor site is usually on the inner thigh. This healthy tissue is spread over the cleaned wound. It must be affixed to the wound area. This can be accomplished with staples, stitches, or pressure. For the next few days, as the graft is introduced, the surgical area must be covered with a sterile dressing.

Full-Thickness Skin Graft Procedural Steps

A full-thickness skin graft – also known as “flap surgery” – is a more involved procedure than a split-thickness graft. In this procedure, a healthy flap of skin is removed with fatty tissue, blood supply, and sometimes muscle tissue. Common donor sites include the back, abdominal wall, and chest wall. The tissue is relocated to the wound area, where it takes hold, restoring the skin.

What should I do to prepare for skin grafting?

The medical staff at Four Peaks Plastic Surgery will provide you with all the information you need to prepare for your skin grafting procedure. As with most any cosmetic or reconstructive surgery, it’s important to stop smoking at least several weeks before the procedure and to avoid anti-inflammatory drugs and non-prescribed herbal supplements. Your surgeon will give you detailed information at your pre-op appointment. For more information about preparing for plastic surgery, download Your Guide to Cosmetic Surgery: 17 Plastic Surgery FAQs.

What is the recovery process like?

Recovering from split-thickness skin grafting can happen at home. Your health care team at Four Peaks Plastic Surgery will provide you with all the information you need to enjoy a healthy, safe recovery. When recovering from a skin grafting procedure, the most important thing is to keep the surgical site clean and protected. You should also protect against any kind of stretching or trauma to the area for at least two to three weeks.

Recovering from full-thickness skin grafting may necessitate a one to two week stay in the hospital, where your wound dressings can be changed and your condition monitored.

How long will the results of my skin graft last?

The benefit of a skin graft procedure, if successful, lasts for life. Having healthy skin tissue where your wound used to be protects against infection and disease. In order to have the best possible outcome, closely follow your health care professional’s self-care guidelines.

Schedule a Free Consultation for Skin Grafting

Would you like to learn more about your skin grafting options? Schedule a free consultation with Dr. Faibisoff in Mesa, AZ to learn more. Or, call 480-968-2945.

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