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How do skin grafts help burns?

Skin grafts help burns heal. Skin grafts are needed if the burned area is too large to heal on its own. Skin grafts are usually done soon after the burn happens. A graft involves taking healthy skin from an area not usually seen, like the thigh, and putting it on top of the burn. The graft is kept in place with stitches or staples and a firm dressing. It slowly heals as it replaces the skin damaged by the burn. Skin grafts help reduce scarring, but the grafted skin looks and feels different.

Dr. Stuart A. Linder, MD
Plastic Surgeon

Skin grafts are useful for covering burn areas for both functional and cosmetic reasons. In general either split thickness or full thickness grafts may be applied to the wound depending upon the location and size of the defect. Serious burns are usually first debrided to clean, vascular tissue with subsequent dressing changes, and later the skin graft is surgical taken from a donor site and sutured or stapled in place. The skin grafts can cover the wound, decrease pain, and prevent further infections when placed appropriately.

Skin grafts are large pieces of skin sewn over burns to help healing. By covering the burn, it protects the skin and helps to speed healing. In some cases, skin is taken from another place on the person's body where they are not burned, and replaces the burned skin that will not heal. In other cases, a skin graft might come from a dead person, which is known as an allograft, or an animal, which is known as a xenograft. Neither of these types of skin grafts are permanent-instead, they are usually removed within two weeks as the person's own skin begins to take over healing.

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