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Skin grafting is a type of surgery that involves removing skin from an area of the body and transplanting it to a different area. The transplanted skin tissue is called a skin graft. This surgery may be done to treat burns, extensive wounding or trauma, and areas of extensive skin loss caused by infection, such as purpura fulminans and necrotizing fasciitis. Skin grafting may also be used in certain surgeries that may need skin grafts for healing to occur, such as removal of skin cancer.
There are two basic types of skin grafts:
Skin grafting is performed under general anesthetic, which means you will be asleep and will not feel any pain during the procedure. In some cases, local anesthetic may be used instead.
Your surgeon begins the surgery by removing skin from the donor site. For split-thickness grafts, the skin will be removed from an area of the body that is usually hidden by clothing, such as the outside of your thigh or the hip. For full-thickness graft, the skin is taken from the abdomen, forearm, groin, or an area above the collarbone.
After your surgeon removes the skin from the donor site, it will be placed carefully over the transplant area and secured with surgical dressing, stitches, or staples. If the transplant area is especially large, the skin from the donor site may be meshed in order to stretch it into a larger patch.
For split-thickness graft, you may need to stay in the hospital for a few days to ensure that the graft and the donor site are healing correctly. A full-thickness graft may require one to a two-week hospital stay. After you are discharged from the hospital, plan to stay in Surin for at least 10 to 14 for more days scheduled follow-up checkups where your doctor change your dressing.
The donor site generally takes anywhere from several days to a week to heal. You need to avoid doing any activities that could injure or stretch the graft site, including exercise, for at least three to four weeks. Your surgeon will give you a detailed recovery timeline and tell you when it is safe to resume your normal activities.
Your surgeon will give you an instruction, which may include how to care for the dressing and area around it, medicines to take, and restrictions. If possible, try to elevate the wound while sitting or lying down to reduce swelling. You should also avoid hitting or bumping the area. In some cases, your surgeon may recommend physical therapy.
Skin grafting is highly successful, and the reason for your surgery determines the result. However, some skin grafts do not heal well, and you may need a second graft. Skin grafting also carries some risks, including allergic reaction to the anesthesia, problems with breathing, bleeding, infection, blood clots, infection, and loss of grafted skin, chronic pain, reduced or lost skin sensation, scarring, skin discoloration, increased sensitivity, and uneven skin surface.
If you cannot or do not want to undergo skin grafting, the alternatives you can consider are:
Negative pressure wound therapy – this type of treatment can help heal acute and chronic wounds, as well as severe first- and second-degree burns by applying a special dressing to the affected area and using negative atmospheric pressure.
Before skin grafting, you may have an open wound, burns, or skin loss caused by infection. After skin grafting, all of these problems are treated and your skin would look normal again.
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