Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey
195 Little Albany Street
New Brunswick, NJ 08903-2681
Your surgeon will perform a skin graft procedure to repair badly damaged or missing skin by transplanting healthy skin to the site of the damaged skin.
Your skin has three main layers: the epidermis, the dermis, and the hypodermis, or subcutaneous layer, containing fat, blood vessels and nerves.
Your skin is your body's largest organ. It serves several major functions, including: physically covering your body, protecting the inside of your body,
regulating your body temperature, and providing you with your sense of touch.
In some cases, your skin can become so damaged that it will not heal properly.
Your doctor may recommend a skin graft procedure to repair many skin conditions, including: a wound that doesn't heal, a severe burn, skin ulcer, skin biopsy,
a large surgical wound, or skin infection.
Before your procedure, you will be given either general or local anesthesia.
If your surgeon is using your own healthy skin, called an autograft, he or she may create a split-thickness skin graft or a full-thickness skin graft,
depending on the depth of skin your graft needs to cover.
After cleaning the area of healthy skin, called the donor site, your surgeon will use an instrument, called a dermatome, to remove very thin slices of your skin,
creating a split-thickness skin graft. For full-thickness skin grafts, your surgeon will use a scalpel to remove all the layers of skin at the donor site.
Once your surgeon determines the type of skin graft you will need, he or she will clean the area of damaged skin and cut out any dead or unhealthy tissue.
Your surgeon will place the skin graft on the wound site and use stitches to keep it in place.
Then your surgeon will apply ointment to the graft and cover it with gauze.
Finally, your surgeon may use bandages to secure the graft and apply pressure as the graft adheres to the surrounding skin.
After your procedure, your doctor may give you oral or IV pain medications; and, you may need to increase the amount of calories and protein in your diet to help your skin heal.
For the first few days after your procedure, you will need to carefully protect the skin graft site; you will need to keep the donor site dry as it heals;
you should also avoid strenuous activities until your doctor tells you it is safe; and,
you may need to see your doctor for wound cleaning and bandaging several times as your wound heals.