Using this guide What's covered
Here you’ll find the answers to many of your questions about skin grafts and flaps. Learn how the surgery works, what it may cost, what your recovery may be like, and more.
To see how skin grafts are done, view our procedure animation below.
What are skin grafts and flaps?
A skin graft involves healthy skin being removed from one area of the body (the donor site) and transplanted to another (the recipient site). The areas of the body most commonly used as a donor site are the leg, inner thigh, upper arm, forearm and buttocks.
A skin flap is similar to a graft in that tissue is transplanted. The essential difference is that a flap exists on its own blood supply. This means much larger amounts of tissue can be transported, including muscle if required.
Why is it done?
Skin grafts and flaps can be used to treat a number of different conditions. The most common are:
- Extensive trauma or chronic wound
- Severe burns
- Areas of prior infection
- Reconstructive surgery following major surgery for cancer
Where is it done?
Simple skin grafts and flaps can be done in a day surgery. More complex procedures are done in an overnight hospital.
How long does it take?
It varies enormously depending on the type, size and situation. A simple split skin graft may take less than an hour, whilst a complicated free flap could take as long as 10-12 hours.
Who is involved?
- Your plastic and reconstructive surgeon or dermatologist
- There may be an assistant surgeon
- Radiologist (if x-rays are necessary)
- Pathologist (if blood tests are necessary)
Preparing for surgery
Types of grafts and flaps
The different approaches to graft and flap surgery.
Choosing a specialist
How to find a surgeon who specialises in your procedure.
Questions for your specialist
What you should be asking before going ahead with surgery.
Preparing for your procedure
Pre-operative tests and what to take to hospital.
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