Your skin is the largest organ of the body, protecting your inner tissue and organs from exposure and damage. When the skin is damaged beyond repair, usually due to disease or injury, it can be debilitating both functionally and aesthetically. Thankfully, healthy skin can be taken from another area of the body and grafted onto the damaged area to improve appearance and maintain coverage. This procedure is known as skin grafting or a skin transplant and it is offered by Dr. Daniel Barrett at Barrett Plastic Surgery in Beverly Hills.
What is Skin Grafting?
Dr. Barrett performs skin grafting by removing skin from one area of the body (known as the donor site) and relocating it to another area. The movement of skin is known as transplanting and offers a common solution for individuals who have lost a portion of their skin due to severe burns, injury and illness. The procedure can usually be performed on an outpatient basis and requires general anesthesia in most cases. However, Dr. Barrett will create a personalized surgical plan for you based on the size of the graft and the extent of the correction required.
Options in Skin Grafting
Dr. Barrett performs two different types of skin grafts so that he can tailor your treatment to your precise needs. Options in skin grafting include:
Split-Thickness Skin Grafts
This process uses healthy skin taken from the epidermis (outermost layer of skin) and part of the dermis (next layer of skin beneath the epidermis). Best harvesting or donor areas include the thighs, abdomen, buttocks and back. Dr. Barrett usually recommends this graft technique when large areas of coverage are needed. Once the graft sites heal, the new skin will appear shinier, smoother and often paler than the rest of the skin in the area.
Full-Thickness Skin Grafts
These grafts involve more dermal layers, taking donor skin from the entire epidermis and dermis. While more layers are taken during this procedure, the size of the donor site is usually much smaller. Skin left at the donor site is then pulled together and sutured closed for a better aesthetic outcome. Common donor areas include the abdomen, forearm, groin and above the collarbone area. Since this graft tends to be more precise and cosmetically appealing, Dr. Barrett often recommends this technique for visible grafting areas like the face.
Is Skin Grafting Right for You?
Skin grafting might be right for you if you have any of the following conditions:
- Skin deformities from severe infections
- Deep burns
- Large, open wounds
- Ulcers that are healing poorly
- Skin loss due to reconstructive surgery
- Bed sores that have not healed
- Skin cancer
Whenever you have a situation where a significant amount of skin is missing or has become damaged beyond repair, a skin graft can help the area heal, restore protection to the underlying tissue and improve the aesthetic appearance of the injured area.
Dr. Barrett often performs skin grafting with the patient under general anesthesia. This ensures you are comfortably asleep throughout the process. In cases where correction is minimal, local anesthesia may be an option. Dr. Barrett begins the process by removing skin from the donor site. If the split-thickness technique is used, he will take care to remove the donor skin from an area that is usually hidden under clothing. Since full-thickness grafts are smaller, they can be taken from more visible areas.
Once the graft is removed, Dr. Barrett will place it over the transplant area. it will be held in place using a pressure dressing and suturing. He will cover the site with a sterile dressing that will protect the area while the graft heals. You should be able to go home shortly after your procedure but if you had general anesthesia, you will need to have someone drive you home and stay with you for the first 24 hours.
After Your Skin Graft
Donor sites usually heal within one to two weeks. However, graft sites may require two to four weeks of healing time. Dr. Barrett does not use dissolvable sutures for his procedures, since they can cause inflammation that may affect the appearance of your scar. Instead, he uses non-reactive sutures that he will remove in his office at one and two weeks after your procedure.
Once the stitches are removed, Dr. Barrett uses a taping program for two more weeks and then a scar gel treatment protocol for an additional three months to reduce scar appearance. To ensure optimal results, you should also avoid swimming and hot tubs for the first two weeks after your treatment.
Ultimate Skin Repair
Severe skin damage can lead to pain, debilitation and loss of self-esteem. Skin grafting is a way to restore the injured area, giving patients a renewed sense of hope, comfort and confidence. Dr. Daniel Barrett is a board-certified plastic surgeon specializing in both aesthetic and reconstructive surgery, and has helped thousands of patients enhance both the form and function of their bodies, with naturally beautiful results. Patients in and around Los Angeles and beyond can benefit from his experience and expertise in skin grafting by scheduling an in-person consultation today by filling out our online contact form, or calling our Beverly Hills office at 310-598-2648. We look forward to helping you learn more about your options for skin grafting.