Skin grafts are used to treat extensive wounds through transplanting healthy skin from another part of the patient’s body.
The grafting process begins with the cleaning of the wound by removing damaged skin from around the wound (known as debridement). Healthy skin is then removed from another part of the patient’s body using either a special surgical knife or a surgical instrument called a dermatone which slices off donor skin.
Small grafts will be sown onto the damaged area of skin and the donor site will be dressed with a protective cover to keep out infection whilst it heals.
For larger grafts multiple pieces of skin may need to be combined to form a mesh capable of covering the wound area.
Skin grafting practices have been successfully used to treat patients globally for the past century and evolved in sophistication and effectiveness. However the process will always have limitations to achieving its aims.
To heal a wound with a skin graft you are in effect creating another wound on the patient’s body, this causes a number of potential problems and disadvantages
• It increases the possibility of the patients getting an infection
• The body has to heal two wounds
• If the patient has a high coverage of burns then there will be limited areas to take grafts from and taking grafts repeatedly from exactly the same area is undesirable.
• The thickness of skin varies on different parts of the body so grafted skin may often be thinner then what it is replacing causing irregular body contours around the injured area.
• Once grafted the skin is likely to start to scar. Extreme scarring will affect patients visually and physically as scarred skin is typically less mobile than non scarred skin causing a reduction in mobility of scarred body parts.
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