A skin graft is a patch of skin that is removed by surgery from one area of the body and transplanted, or attached, to another area.
Skin transplant; Skin autografting; FTSG; STSG; Split thickness skin graft; Full thickness skin graft
Your surgery will probably be done while you are under
Healthy skin is taken from a place on your body called the donor site. Most people who are having a skin graft have a split-thickness skin graft. This takes the two top layers of skin from the donor site (the epidermis) and the layer under the epidermis (the dermis).
The donor site can be any area of the body. Most times, it is an area that is hidden by clothes, such as the buttock or inner thigh.
The graft is carefully spread on the bare area where it is being transplanted. It is held in place either by gentle pressure from a well-padded dressing that covers it, or by staples or a few small stitches. The donor-site area is covered with a sterile dressing for 3 to 5 days.
People with deeper tissue loss may need a full-thickness skin graft. This requires an entire thickness of skin from the donor site, not just the top two layers.
A full-thickness skin graft is a more complicated procedure. The flap of skin from the donor site includes the muscles and blood supply. It is transplanted to the area of the graft. Common donor sites for full-thickness skin grafts include the chest wall, back, or abdominal wall.
Why the Procedure Is Performed
Skin grafts may be recommended for:
- Areas where there has been infection that caused a large amount of skin loss
- Cosmetic reasons or reconstructive surgeries where there has been skin damage or skin loss
- Skin cancer surgery
- Surgeries that need skin grafts to heal
- Venous ulcers,
pressure ulcers, or diabetic ulcers that do not heal
- Very large wounds
- When the surgeon is unable to close a wound properly
Full-thickness grafts are done when a lot of tissue is lost. This can happen with open fractures of the lower leg, or after severe infections.
Review Date: 01/25/2011
Reviewed By: Shabir Bhimji, MD, PhD, Specializing in General Surgery, Cardiothoracic and Vascular Surgery, Midland, TX. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.