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Skin Graft Recovery


By grafting skin from another part of a patient’s body, the wound or the burn can be significantly cured and made to look as normal as possible. The recovery of the skin graft depends on the type of procedure used, as there are many different forms and types of procedures, which can be used. The procedures naturally depend on the type of the wound or the burn. The surgeon will decide the procedure to be followed. The recovery also depends on the general health of the patient, his body’s resistance to infections and the medicines used. Some people heal faster than others.

Generally, healthy skin from a suitable part of the body-usually that part which is not readily visible and is covered by clothes is used and transferred to the injured part. The skin from the donor area is removed using a scalpel, knife or a dermatome. The dermatome is an instrument which can be set to cut an exact thickness or length of skin which the surgeon needs. As this is a painful procedure, general anesthesia may be used. The harvested skin is placed over the wound, stretched if necessary, and sutured or stapled to keep it fixed. Medicines and sterilized gauze are used to cover the wound. Within twenty-four hours the wound and the site of the donor skin will begin healing, if the graft is not rejected.

The patient needs daily dressing of the wound for about five days and later on an outpatient basis till the wound and the donor site heals. Care has to be taken to see that there is no infection, or bleeding or unpleasant smell or unnecessary pain. If any of these are present the doctor has to be immediately informed. Generally the recovery from skin graft surgery is quick. Especially after a split-thickness skin grafting and also if there are major burn skin areas.

The recovery and the healing depend on the extent of the wound or the burn and the amount of skin grafted. This graft must be protected from trauma or stretching or pressure for at least two to three weeks. The patient has to have a dressing on the wound for about one to two weeks. He should avoid any exercise or physical activity which might stretch or injure the graft. Some people may need physical therapy after skin grafting. Full-thickness skin grafting has a longer period of recovery. Patients who have undergone this type of skin grafting have to stay in the hospital for one to two weeks till the wound is reasonably cured.

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