Skin grafts

Skin grafting involves moving skin from one area of the body to another, in order to cover a defect in the skin. It can be used to treat some wounds, and also to close large surgical wounds, for example after cancer surgery.

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There are a variety of different types of skin flaps that can be used to close wounds, but skin grafting normally refers to free skin grafts, in which a section of skin is removed from one part of the body completely, transferred to another part and sutured in place.

It is a delicate surgery, as the transferred skin must have all fat and connective tissue removed carefully first, then be sutured in such a way as to prevent movement of the graft but also without damaging blood supply to the underlying wound area. The grafted skin must then be prevented from moving for at least 5 days after surgery. Protection of the grafted skin for the first few days is absolutely critical for graft survival.

A successful grafting will result in healthy skin growing in the new location within a couple of weeks.

Suitable candidates

Otherwise healthy patients with a healthy granulated skin defect that cannot be closed by other surgical means, are good candidates for skin grafting.

Time involved in clinic

Some patients will be kept in the clinic for several days to ensure there is no damage to the grafted skin, but most will be managed at home after discharge the same day as surgery or the next day.

After care

Protection of the graft is critical. This means a bandage that prevents both movement at the site and any licking of it by the patient. The graft is incredibly fragile initially, and one lick will destroy it.

Sutures are removed at 2 weeks after surgery.

How to book

Give reception a ring on 09 238 7486 to discuss transfer of your patient to our clinic for assessment and treatment. You may be asked to bring any clinical notes, xrays images, and medications with you when you come.