Skin graftsand flaps

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.

Cost indicator

Discover the typical out-of-pocket costs HCF members can expect to pay for skin grafts and flaps, and learn how your choice of doctor and hospital affect that cost. 


See costs

Learn about skin grafts

This short animation shows how skin can be taken from a donor site and grafted on to a damaged area. 

The basics

What are skin grafts and flaps?

Skin graft

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.

Skin flap

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
  • Anaesthetist
  • Nurses
  • Radiologist (if x-rays are necessary)
  • Pathologist (if blood tests are necessary)

The details

Preparing for surgery

Types of grafts and flaps

The different approaches to graft and flap surgery. 
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Choosing a specialist

How to find a surgeon who specialises in your procedure.
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Questions for your specialist

What you should be asking before going ahead with surgery.
Learn more

Preparing for your procedure

Pre-operative tests and what to take to hospital.
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surgery and aftercare

Going to hospital

What to expect on the day of your procedure.
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Your procedure

What happens in the operating theatre.
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Your hospital stay and recovery.
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Important information

Information is provided by HCF in good faith for the convenience of members. It is not an endorsement or recommendation of any form of treatment nor is it a substitute for medical advice, and you should rely on the advice of your treating doctors in relation to all matters concerning your health. Every effort has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information, however HCF takes no responsibility for any injury, loss, damage or other consequences of the use of this information.