Our skin is absolutely remarkable. It keeps out harmful viruses and bacteria from getting inside our body, protects our internal organs from harm, and regulates our body’s temperature. Even though skin performs many valuable functions that are relevant to everyday living, it often goes unappreciated until a part of it is missing. Luckily, skin grafting is an option if this should ever be the case.
During a skin graft procedure, the patient will be put under general anesthesia. The surgeon will remove a piece of healthy skin from one area of the body (the donor site) and will then transplant that skin to the uncovered area. When a skin graft is performed, DermNet NZ explains that the borrowed skin will cover the open wound and attach itself to the cells beneath and begin to grow in its new location. Because the skin graft has its own blood supply its survival relies upon the nutrients from the wound bed on which it was placed.
Most patients will receive what is called a split-thickness skin graft. This procedure involves the top two layers of skin, the epidermis and the underlying layer of the epidermis, the dermis. This healthy tissue can be taken from any part of the patient’s body, but the site where skin is most often taken from is the buttocks or the inner thigh. Once skin is removed from the donor site, it will be carefully spread across the area in need of the transplant. Medline Plus tells us that the borrowed skin will be held in place by gentle pressure from a well-padded dressing that covers it, by staples, or by a few small stitches. The donor site will then be covered with a sterile dressing for about three to five days. The recovery should be rather quick with this procedure.
If a patient has lost a large amount of tissue, they may need what is called a full-thickness skin graft. This procedure is more complicated than the split-thickness skin graft because the surgeon will have to remove more than two layers of skin. Patients with severe burns, injuries, or infections may be candidates for this procedure. Recovery time is of course longer when a full-thickness skin graft is performed, due to the fact it is a more complex procedure. Patients may have to remain in the hospital for one to two weeks, but healing time may vary with each patient.
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