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What is a skin graft?

A skin graft is a process in which donor skin is used to cover injured skin. They're typically used for severe burns. Learn more from Brian Evans, MD, from West Hills Hospital & Medical Center in this video.
Ross Rudolph, MD
Plastic Surgery
Skin grafts take tissue from one part of the body and suture it over the wound. They are often used for people with burns. Usually, skin is taken from an area of the body that is concealed by clothing. Depending on the severity of the wound and the type of skin graft, recovery can range from three weeks to a couple of months.
A skin graft is a procedure in which skin is taken from a place on your body and transplanted onto the area of the burn site. The best match for a skin graft is skin from your own body. The second best match is donor skin from a twin. Still, skin grafts are used from other people, animals, or are even made of synthetics. The graft must be done particularly on large wounds to provide a short-term cover for the body and to help reduce the loss of fluid.

The skin graft is a surgical procedure and is usually performed at a hospital or burn center with general anesthesia. Within 36 hours of the skin graft surgery, new blood vessels may start to grow. It’s thought that the success of a graft will be known within 72 hours of surgery. Sterile dressings are applied and antimicrobials are given to avoid infection. If the graft is unsuccessful, more surgery will be necessary to cover the wound.
Stuart A. Linder, MD
Plastic Surgery
A skin graft is either an autograft or allograft placed on a clean wound for closure. The most commonly used grafts are autografts. An autograft is a skin graft, either partial or full thickness taken from the same patient (donor site) and transfered to the recipient site (clean burned wound). Split thickness skin grafts work well on body burns, while full-thickness grafts allow for better color, texture, and cosmetic match to the face. Once a skin graft is placed, new blood vessels form or revascularization. Normally, skin grafts are performed under general anesthesia in a certified Burn Unit. 
Removal of large tumors creates large defects, so sometimes skin is taken from another part of your body and grafted over the area where the cancer was removed.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.