Skin Grafting

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Skin grafts are often employed after serious injuries when some of the body's skin is damaged. Surgical removal (excision or debridement) of the damaged skin is followed by skin grafting. The grafting serves two purposes it can reduce the course of treatment needed (and time in the hospital), and it can improve the function and appearance of the area of the body which receives the skin graft. There are two types of skin grafts, the more common type is where a thin layer is removed from a healthy part of the body (the donor section) like peeling a potato, (see donor section) or a full thickness skin graft, which involves pitching and cutting skin away from the donor section. A full thickness skin graft is more risky, in terms of the body accepting the skin, yet it leaves only a scar line on the donor section, similar to a Cesarean section scar. For full thickness skin grafts, the donor section will often heal much more quickly than the injury and is less painful than a partial thickness skin graft.

Patient who may have a skin wound as a result of surgery to remove a lesion as in skin cancer, a severe skin infection, or from an injury or burn. If the area is small and the skin nearby is loose, the wound can be closed by bringing the edges together (direct closure). If this is not possible, then the wound can be repaired with a skin graft. Skin grafting is a surgical procedure in which a patch of skin is completely removed from another part of the body (called donor site) and used to cover the wound (called recipient site). A skin graft is surgical procedure in which a piece of skin from one area of the patient's body is transplanted to another area of the body. Skin from another person or animal may be used as temporary cover for large burn areas to decease fluid loss. The skin is taken from a donor site, which has healthy skin and implanted at the damaged recipient site. Skin graft and flaps are more serious than other scar revision surgeries such as dermabrasion. They are usually performed in a hospital under general anesthesia. The treated area depending on the size of the area and severity of the injury will determine the amount of time needed for healing. This time may be 6 weeks or a few months. Within 36 hours of the surgery new blood vessels will begin to grow from the recipient area into the transplanted skin. Most grafts are successful, but some may require additional surgery if the do not heal properly.

The initial dressing placed on a recipient site immediately after a skin graft may remain in place from 3 days to 1 week. New dressings may then be placed over the graft site until the skin graft is fully healed. After a skin graft is placed, a process known as regeneration takes place, which includes the re-growth of hair and sweat and sebaceous glands. People with partial-thickness grafts may not fully recover sweat glands, and this may cause problems with temperature regulation. Lack of sebaceous glands may cause skin to become dry, itchy and scaly. Frequent application of lotion to graft sites usually alleviates these problems. The final stage of skin graft healing involves the recovery of feeling at the graft site.

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