- Allograft—skin taken from another human source, such as a cadaver
- Xenograft—skin taken from an animal source
- Synthetic tissue
Reasons for Procedure
To promote healing of:
- Large burns
- Venous ulcers
- Pressure ulcers (bedsores)
- Diabetic ulcers
- To reconstruct skin removed during surgery (such as following breast cancer surgery )
- 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 of contracts, interfering with limb movement
- Age: newborns and infants, or 60 or older
- Poor overall health
- Use of certain medicines
What to Expect
Prior to Procedure
Local anesthesia—The immediate area is numbed.
- You may also be given intravenous drugs to help you relax and reduce anxiety.
- 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 and part of the middle layer. This type of graft allows the source site to heal more quickly. The graft is more fragile. It may also be abnormally pigmented (color differences). This type of graft may be meshed. This is a technique which places multiple controlled holes in the graft. It will give 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 an entire area of skin. Although this type of graft requires stitches to heal the source site, the final outcome is usually better. Full-thickness grafts are usually recommended for areas where cosmetic appearance is important, such as the face. Full-thickness grafts can only be placed on areas of the body that have significant vascularization (blood vessels). Its use is somewhat limited.
- 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.
|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.
- Do not expose recipient site to prolonged sunlight.
- Inspect 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 (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, dizziness, or general ill feeling
- Cough, shortness of breath, chest pain, or severe nausea or vomiting
- Any new symptoms
American Society for Dermatologic Surgery http://www.asds.net/
DermNet NZ http://dermnetnz.org/
Canadian Dermatology Association http://www.dermatology.ca/
The Canadian Society of Plastic Surgeons http://www.plasticsurgery.ca/
American Society of Plastic Surgeons website. Available at: http://www.plasticsurgery.org/public%5Feducation/procedures/ReconstructiveSurgery.cfm#5 . Accessed November 14, 2006.
Sabiston DC Jr. Textbook of Surgery . 17th ed. Philadelphia, PA: WB Saunders Co.; 2004.
University of Florida College of Medicine, Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery website. Available at: http://www.surgery.ufl.edu/plasticsurgery/ . Accessed October 14, 2005.
US Food and Drug Administration website. Available at: http://www.fda.gov/ . Accessed October 14, 2005.
- Reviewer: Marcin Chwistek, MD
- Review Date: 11/2012 -
- Update Date: 11/26/2012 -