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Skin Grafting and Flap Surgery


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Skin grafting involves the transplantation of skin from one area of the body to another. The transplanted tissue is called a skin graft.

Our specialists expertly use skin grafting to treat:

  • Areas of extensive skin loss due to infection, such as necrotizing fasciitis (flesh-eating bacteria that causes skin death) or purpura fulminans (disorder that causes skin death)
  • Burns
  • Extensive wounding or trauma
  • Specific surgeries that may require skin grafts for healing to occur – most commonly removal of skin cancers

Flap surgery involves a piece of tissue that still receives blood supply because it's attached to the body by a major artery and vein or at its base. This piece of donor tissue is used in reconstructive surgery by being set into the recipient site (injured area onto which a flap or graft is placed). Sometimes, the flap includes skin and fatty tissue only, but a flap may also include muscle from the donor site (the area from which the flap is taken).

Who is a Candidate?

Skin Graft
Skin grafts are often used after serious injuries when some of the body’s skin is damaged. Surgical removal of the damaged skin is followed by skin grafting. The grafting serves two purposes: it can reduce the course of treatment needed (and time in the hospital), and it can improve the function and appearance of the area of the body that receives the skin graft.

Flap Surgery
If you have suffered tissue loss over any area of your body, you may be a candidate for flap surgery. This type of reconstructive plastic surgery is typically used to repair defects left behind after traumatic injury or mastectomy (breast removal surgery). Flap techniques can also produce excellent results in facial reconstruction after skin cancer removal (known as Mohs surgery).

What to Expect

Skin Grafting
There are two types of skin grafts.

  • Full thickness: This type of graft involves pitching and cutting skin away from the donor section. A full thickness skin graft is riskier, in terms of the body accepting the skin, yet it leaves only a scar line on the donor section, similar to a Cesarean section scar. For full thickness skin grafts, the donor section will often heal much more quickly than the injury and is less painful than a partial thickness skin graft.
  • Partial thickness: This is a more common type of skin graft in which the surgeon removes a thin layer of healthy skin from another part of the body (the donor section), similar to peeling a potato.

Flap Surgery
There are as many types of flap surgeries as there are many types of injuries that may require the use of a flap. Flaps come from various locations, and are used in different ways to accomplish the desired result. However, flaps used for reconstructive plastic surgery can be broken down into two main categories.

Local (pedicled) flap: Tissue is freed and rotated or moved in some manner from a nearby area to cover the defect, yet remains attached to the body at its base and has blood vessels that enter the flap from the donor site.

There are five main types of local flaps:

  • Advancement flap: moves directly forward with no lateral (sideways) movement
  • Rotation flap: rotates around a pivot point to be positioned into a adjacent defect
  • Transposition flap: moves laterally (sideways) in relation to a pivot point to be positioned into an adjacent defect
  • Interpolation flap: rotates around a pivot point to be positioned into a nearby (but not adjacent) defect
  • Free flap: Tissue from another area of the body is detached and transplanted to the recipient site and the blood supply is surgically reconnected to blood vessels adjacent to the wound.

Why Choose UHealth?

Highly-trained specialists to perform your surgery. Offering the latest in leading-edge research and technology, our plastic surgeons treat many patients who have been referred by doctors from across the country as well as around the globe. Members of our plastic and reconstructive team are experts in a variety of complex procedures and represent a wide range of medical skills and training.

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