Wound Care Therapy: Surgical Skin Graft 

The 26 Review

  • What is a Foot Skin Graft A procedure that removes skin from one area of the body to cover and heal a foot or ankle wound
  • Why To facilitate healing in nonhealing or large foot and ankle wounds
  • How Split thickness and full thickness grafts take a portion of epidermis and dermis from the donor area to apply to the affected area
  • Recommended For Individuals struggling with trauma wounds, dehisced wounds, pressure ulcers, venous leg ulcers, diabetic foot ulcers and/or wounds with exposed tendon and bone
26 Foot and Ankle Skin Graft

Let’s take a closer look…

As mentioned previously, skin grafts are a medical procedure that involves removing healthy skin from one area of the body, in order to apply it to a different area of the body. This surgery can be done if the body has lost its protective covering due to injury, burns or illness. Skin grafts are commonly used to treat foot ulcers in patients with diabetes by reconstructing the skin defect. Furthermore, diabetic foot wounds are a serious issue that should receive immediate treatment. Many diabetics walk around with wounds on their feet that are not getting properly treated. In conjunction to diabetic ulcers, other reasons for a skin graft include trauma wounds, dehisced wounds, pressure ulcers, venous leg ulcers, and wounds with exposed tendon and bone.

General Types of Skin Grafts

There are two basic types of surgical skin grafts: full-thickness and split-thickness grafts.

A full-thickness graft involves removing the entirety of the epidermis and dermis from the healthy donor site. The medical professional will typically harvest the healthy skin from the abdomen, groin, forearm, or the area above the collarbone. These grafts tend to utilize smaller pieces of skin, so the surgeon can pull shut the incision to stitch or staple the site in a straight line. A full-thickness graft is usually performed on highly visible parts of the body. Unlike split-thickness grafts, full-thickness grafts blend in with the skin around then, allowing for a better cosmetic outcome.

A split-thickness graft involves removing the epidermis, as well as a portion of the dermis layer. The surgeon typically removes the healthy skin from the front or outer thigh, abdomen, buttocks, or back. Split-thickness grafts are utilized mainly to cover larger areas of damaged skin. These grafts tend to be more fragile, as well as have a smooth or shiny appearance. In addition, they may also appear paler than the adjoining skin. Split-thickness grafts don’t grow as readily as ungrafted skin, so adolescents or younger patients may need additional grafts as they grow older.

Nonsurgical skin substitute grafts are a non-surgical grafting option. Skin substitutes are placed on a prepared wound bed to ensure contact between the wound bed and the graft, so they take on the functions of the missing skin layer. Read more here.

Benefits of a Skin Graft

Skin grafts can aid with a wide variety of ailments and chronic conditions, in conjunction with creating better cosmetic outcomes. These grafts help in restoring mobility, promoting movement and in certain cases, saving limbs. Those with diabetes are prone to foot sores and ulcers, which can get infected and be hard to treat. Skin grafts are a boon to diabetic patients. They can help with effectively healing a wound. All in all, with skin grafts, medical professionals are able to save the feet and prevent amputations.

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