The skin covers the entire body, and acts as a protective barrier. Skin grafts may be recommended for:
The most common sites of harvest for skin grafts are the buttocks and inner thigh, areas which are usually hidden and therefore cosmetically less important.
While the patient is awake, sleepy (sedated), or deep asleep and pain-free (local anesthesia or general anesthesia), healthy skin is taken from the selected donor site on the patient's body using a dermatome (skin-cutting instrument).
The graft is carefully spread on the bare area to be covered. It is held in place either by gentle pressure from a well-padded dressing or by a few small stitches. The raw donor area is covered with a sterile nonadherent dressing for 5-7 days to protect it from infection. The donor area heals on its own within 2-3 weeks.
Skin grafts usually heal with little scarring, and often look similar to surrounding normal skin.
Reviewed By: Debra G. Wechter, MD, FACS, general surgery practice specializing in breast cancer, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.