Using this guide What's covered
Here you’ll find the answers to many of your questions about skin graft and flap surgery. Learn how it works, what it may cost, what your recovery may be like, and more.
To see how the surgery is done, view our animation below.
What are skin grafts?
A skin graft is a procedure where healthy skin is taken from one area of the body (the donor site) and transplanted to a non-healed wound or area of skin loss (the recipient site). The areas of the body most commonly used for donor sites are the leg, inner thigh, upper arm, forearm and buttocks.
What are skin flaps?
A skin flap is similar to a graft in that tissue is transplanted. The essential difference is that a flap has its own blood supply. With a flap, larger amounts of tissue can be used, including muscle if required. The surgical technique to harvest and to move this tissue is complex. The surgeon has to harvest not just the block of tissue to be moved, but also the blood vessels (arteries and veins) that feed the tissue block. Compared to a graft, a flap requires more planning and more surgical skill.
Why is it done?
Skin grafts and flaps can be used to treat a number of different conditions. The most common are:
- Extensive trauma
- Chronic wounds
- 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 as same-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 skin graft may take less than an hour, whilst a complicated flap could take as long as 10 to 12 hours.
Who is involved?
- A plastic and reconstructive surgeon
- Possibly an assistant surgeon
- Physiotherapist/Occupational Therapist
Alternatives to skin graft and flap surgery
Options that may delay your need for skin graft and flap surgery
Types of skin grafts and flaps
There are 2 types of graft and several types of flap
Results vs. risks of the surgery
The benefits and potential complications of skin graft and flap surgery
Choosing a specialist
How to find a surgeon who performs skin graft and flap surgery
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