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What is skin grafting?

Skin Grafting

Skin grafting is the surgical transplantation of skin and its underlying tissues from one area to another. Doctors use skin grafting to restore the barrier function and cosmetic appearance of the skin after irreparable damage. Skin grafting involves removing damaged or dead skin tissue and replacing it with new, healthy skin. 

Skin grafting is major surgery with serious risks and potential complications. You may have less invasive treatment options. Consider getting a second opinion about all your treatment choices before having skin grafting.

Types of skin grafting

The types of skin grafting include:

  • Allograft is skin from a human donor, usually a cadaver. This graft is temporary until your own skin grows back or until the area is ready for an autograft.
  • Autograft is your own skin from another body area, usually an area that is covered by clothing, such as the inner thigh. This type of graft is permanent.
  • Skin substitute is a synthetic or semi-synthetic material that can be a temporary or permanent skin replacement. Cultured skin grown in a lab from a small piece of your own skin falls under this category.
  • Xenograft is skin from an animal donor. This is a temporary graft until your own skin grows back or until the area is ready for an autograft.

Other procedures that may be performed 

Your doctor may perform additional reconstructive procedures in addition to skin grafting. Ask your doctor about other procedures that may be necessary in addition to skin grafting.

Medical Reviewers: Daphne E. Hemmings, MD, MPH Last Review Date: Jul 14, 2013

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Medical References

Dorsett-Martin WA, Wysocki AB. Enhance your knowledge of skin grafts. OR Nurse. 2008; 2(9):30-38. http://www.nursingcenter.com/prodev/ce_article.asp?tid=831986. Accessed June 16, 2013.
Pile, JC. Evaluating postoperative fever: A focused approach. Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine. 2006;73 (Suppl 1):S62. http://ccjm.org/content/73/Suppl_1/S62.full.pdf. Accessed June 16, 2013.
Skin Graft. University of Virginia. http://uvahealth.com/services/plastic-surgery/conditions-treatments/14862. Accessed June 16, 20132.
Skin Grafting & Flap Surgery. University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. http://surgery.med.miami.edu/plastic-and-reconstructive/skin-grafting-flap-surgery. Accessed June 16, 2013
Skin Substitutes. Wound Care Centers. http://www.woundcarecenters.org/wound-therapies/skin-substitutes.html. Accessed June 16, 2013.

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