What Are Skin Grafts? Types, Procedures For Skin Graft

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What are skin grafts?

A skin graft is a piece of skin that is taken from one part of the body and put on another part through surgery.

Skin grafting is the surgical operation that involves taking skin from one part of the body and relocating, or transplanting, it to another.

If a section of your body has lost its protective skin covering due to burns, accident, or sickness, this operation may be performed.

Skin grafting is done in the hospital.

The majority of skin transplants are performed under anesthesia, which means you will be sleeping during the process and will not experience any discomfort.

Why are skin grafts done?

A skin graft is put on a part of the body that has lost skin. Some of the most common reasons for a skin graft are:

  • Skin infection
  • Severe burns
  • open wounds 
  • Bed sores or other ulcers on their skin that haven’t healed well
  • skin cancer surgery

Related: What Is a lesion On The skin? Types, Treatment, And More

Types of skin grafts

There are two kinds of skin grafts:

1. Full-thickness grafts

A full-thickness graft is when all of the epidermis and dermis from the donor site is taken away.

Most of these are taken from the abdomen, groin, forearm, or upper arm.

They tend to be small pieces of skin because the donor site from where it’s taken is usually pulled together and closed with stitches or staples in a straight line.

There are two types of full-thickness grafts: one is used for small wounds on parts of the body that are more visible, like the face.

Full-thickness grafts look better than split-thickness grafts because they blend in better with the skin around them.

2. Split-thickness grafts

Split-thickness grafts are used when you need to make a new part of your body.

During a split-thickness graft, the epidermis and a small part of the dermis are removed.

Then, a new piece of skin is put on top of the old one.

Split-thickness skin grafts are usually taken from the front or outside of the thigh, the abdomen, buttocks, or the back.

Split-thickness grafts are used to cover a lot of space. These grafts are usually very fragile, and they usually have a shiny or smooth look to them.

They may also be lighter than the skin next to them.

Split-thickness grafts don’t grow as quickly as ungrafted skin, so children who get them may need extra grafts with time.

Related: What Are Skin Tags And How Do I Remove Them?

How to prepare for a skin graft?

Before you have skin graft surgery, your doctor may ask you to stop taking some medicines (such as blood thinners).

If you smoke, you should stop for a few weeks before surgery.

People who smoke are more likely to have problems with a skin graft when they’re getting one.  The skin on your body doesn’t heal as well if you smoke after having surgery.

Visit your doctor before the surgery to plan the procedure and find out where the donor site will be.

The surgeon will choose healthy skin that looks and feels like the graft site( damaged skin).

It’s also important to bring someone who can drive you home after the surgery. You’ll be sedated so it may not wear off fast.

Having someone stay with you for the first few days after surgery is also good.

And if you can, get someone to help you with some tasks and getting around the house.

Skin Graft Procedure

This operation is often performed while you are sedated. This means you’ll be sleeping and so you won’t feel pain.

Healthy skin is harvested from a location on your body known as the donor site.

The majority of persons who receive skin grafts get a split-thickness skin transplant.

During the operation, the surgeon will remove the two top layers of skin from the donor location as well as the layer underneath the epidermis.

Any part of the body may be used as a donor site. Most of the time, it is in a place that is concealed by clothing, such as the buttock or inner thigh.

The graft is evenly applied to the bare region where it will be implanted and stiched.

It is maintained in place by either moderate pressure from a well-padded dressing or staples or a few tiny sutures.

For 3 to 5 days, the donor site is covered with a sterile bandage.

People who have suffered from severe tissue loss may need a full-thickness skin transplant.

This necessitates the removal of the full thickness of skin from the donor location, not just the top two layers.

Related: Hair Transplant Cost 2022: Side effects, recovery and more

Aftercare for a skin graft

After your surgery, the hospital staff will keep an eye on you. They’ll watch out for your vital signs as well and give you painkillers to help you deal with the pain.

To make sure your split-thickness graft and donor site are healing well, your doctor may want you to stay in the hospital for a few days.

This is because the graft and the donor site need to be checked.

Within 36 hours, the graft should start to grow blood vessels and connect to the skin around it.

If this doesn’t happen, it could be a sign that your body isn’t taking the graft well.

The donor site will heal in one to two weeks but the graft site will take a little longer to heal.

Before and after the surgery, you’ll need to stay away from anything that could stretch or hurt the graft site.

Your doctor will let you know when it’s safe for you to go about your normal activities.

What are the advantages of a skin graft?

With skin grafts, you can get back the skin that you lost, make your skin look better, and get it to work again.

This surgery is good for people who have lost a lot of their skin due to infections or wounds.

Related: How To Tighten Neck Skin According To Dermatologists

Risks

Most skin graft procedures are successful.

But sometimes, the skin that was transplanted doesn’t work well in the new site.

If the skin graft doesn’t work, you may need to get another one.

Possible complications could be caused by:

  • Damage to the graft site, such as moving the new skin too much while it is healing.
  • Problems with blood flow cause the wound to heal too slowly, so it doesn’t get better quickly common with smokers).
  • Blood or pus is pooling under the skin that was transplanted.
  • Infection.

Other complications that may arise include:

  • Discolored skin
  • Loss of sensitivity
  • Chronic pain
  • When you have surgery, scar tissue forms around where the graft was put in
  • Bleeding
  • contracture, that is when the grafted skin shrinks and pulls in at the edges.

Takeaway

A skin graft is a surgical procedure that involves cutting healthy skin from the donor site to the graft site(where the skin was lost).

This procedure is performed by the surgeon and is completely safe although complications could arise.

If your skin isn’t healing well after the surgery, you need to contact a doctor.

If you have questions about this article? Kindly drop it in the comment box below, we will be happy to help you.

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