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- Allograft—skin taken from another human source, such as a cadaver
- Xenograft—skin taken from an animal source
- Synthetic tissue
Reasons for Procedure
- Promote healing of:
- Reconstruct skin removed during surgery, such as following skin cancer or tumor removal, or for a serious skin infection
- Graft failure
- Infection at either the donor or recipient site
- Poor healing
- Increased or decreased sensation at the recipient site
- Hair may not grow on recipient site
- Graft tissue contracts, interfering with limb movement
- A collection of blood outside of a vessel, known as a hematoma
- Differences in skin coloration
- Age—newborns, infants, or adults aged 60 years and older
- Poor overall health
- Use of certain medications
What to Expect
Prior to Procedure
- Local anesthesia—the immediate area is numbed
- Regional anesthesia—a large area of your body will be numbed, but you will be awake
- General anesthesia—you will be asleep
Description of Procedure
- Split-thickness graft—This is the removal of the top layer of skin (epidermis) and part of the middle layer (dermis). This type of graft allows the source site to heal more quickly. The graft is more fragile. There may be color differences. This type of graft may be meshed. Multiple controlled holes are placed in the graft, giving it a mesh appearance. The mesh allows fluid to leak out from the underlying tissue bed. The meshed skin will be able to spread out over a much larger area of injury.
- Full-thickness graft—This is the removal and transfer of the entire thickness of the skin (epidermis and dermis). Although this type of graft requires stitches to heal the donor site, the final outcome is usually better. Full-thickness grafts are usually recommended for areas where cosmetic appearance is important, such as the face. Because of the need to close the donor site with stitches, the use of full-thickness skin grafts is limited by size and source site.
- Composite grafts—This is a combination of skin and fat, skin and cartilage, or the middle layer of skin and fat. It is used in areas that require three-dimensionality, such as the nose. Composite grafts are often removed from the ear.
|A split-thickness graft is fastened to the damaged site.|
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How Long Will It Take?
How Much Will It Hurt?
Average Hospital Stay
- Keep the recipient site clean and dry.
- Avoid all trauma to the recipient site.
- Keep the recipient site from periods of prolonged sunlight.
- Inspect the site for healing and good circulation, as shown by healthy pink coloration.
- Follow instructions given for bandaging the grafted area. This will provide the area with appropriate support during the healing process. It will also help to prevent contractures that cause intense tightening even after healing is complete.
Call Your Doctor
- Signs of infection, including fever and chills
- Redness, swelling, increasing pain, excessive bleeding, or discharge from the wounds
- Headache, muscle aches, lightheadedness, or general ill feeling
- Cough, shortness of breath, chest pain, or severe nausea or vomiting
- New or worsening symptoms
- Reviewer: Michael Woods, MD, FAAP
- Review Date: 09/2016
- Update Date: 09/30/2013