During skin grafting surgery, skin is taken from one part of the body and transplanted to another to conceal or replace damaged skin. If you have suffered skin loss due to burns, an injury or an illness like cancer, you could benefit from this procedure.
Dr. Mark Mitchell Jones may suggest skin graft surgery if removing cancer or skin lesions leaves a wound that is too big or hard to close directly.
How a Skin Graft Takes
In a successful skin graft, the transplanted tissue develops blood vessels, connecting to the skin around it within a few days. If these blood vessels do not form soon after surgery, it could be a sign that your body is rejecting the graft.
Most procedures “take,” which means the transplanted skin heals well. But sometimes, the grafted skin does not grow in with the rest of the skin, so another surgery is needed.
What You Can Do to Increase Your Chances of a Successful Skin Graft
There are several reasons a skin graft does not take — some of them are potentially avoidable. These causes include:
- Smoking. Smoking alters your immune system and slows wound healing, increasing infection risk. One cigarette reduces the body’s ability to supply post-surgery nutrition.
- Too much movement. It would be best if you refrained from physical activity until your wound has healed. The transplant may not take if there is too much movement of the graft on the wound.
- Poor blood flow. While some factors that lead to poor blood flow are out of your control (like genetics), others, like smoking, are avoidable.
- Blood or fluid collecting under the graft.
- Not following aftercare instructions correctly.
After your surgery, we will offer you pain medication on prescription and show you how to care for the donor and graft sites to avoid infection. You will want to leave the dressing on the wound for at least a week. Additional instructions include:
- Change the dressing as instructed and keep it dry and clean.
- Avoid contact with the dressing (aside from when you need to change it).
- To reduce fluid buildup and swelling, elevate the wound above heart level while lying down or seated.
- If bleeding, apply pressure using a clean cloth for ten minutes on and off until it stops.
When it is time to remove the bandages, avoid touching, scratching or picking at the skin. It takes approximately two to three weeks for the donor site to heal completely and a little longer for the graft site. Therefore, avoid physical activity that stretches the skin or brings it into contact with things.
Scheduling an Appointment with an Experienced Skin Graft Surgeon
Skin grafts can replace lost skin, restore function and improve the appearance of injured skin. Dr. Jones has extensive experience in reconstructive procedures like skin graft surgery. Contact Atlanta Plastic Surgery Specialists for more information or to schedule a consultation.