Alternativesto skin grafts and flaps

There are alternatives to skin grafts and flaps in some cases

Letting it heal on its own

A partial-thickness burn or wound may heal without a graft or flap graft or flap. However, a full-thickness burn or wound will most likely form thick scar tissue that contracts. When scar tissue contracts, it can prevent normal movement around the area and may also be unsightly. Scar tissue lacks many of the normal structures and functions of skin, such as a sense of touch, sweat glands, oil glands and hair.

Negative pressure wound therapy

By applying a special dressing to your wound and using negative atmospheric pressure, it may heal by itself without the need for surgery. This process involves regular (and often painful) dressing changes and being hooked up to a small pump to reduce atmospheric pressure in the wound. Negative pressure wound therapy isn’t suitable for all wounds but it may help your wound heal faster and shorten your hospital stay. It's also used to prepare recipient sites for grafting.

Bioengineered skin

Scientists have been working on alternatives to skin grafting, but none of them has been found to be as practical as using your own skin, except in special circumstances.

Skin grown in a lab, skin from cadavers and from animals have all been tested but so far, your own skin harvested from another part of your body (or from your identical twin) is still the best option.

The exception is where a burn or wound covers a large area and/or there isn’t a suitable donor site. In this case, one option your doctor may recommend is using bioengineered skin. Brands of bioengineered skin available in Australia include Integra®, TransCyte®, Apligraf® and Alloderm®.

choosing a specialist

How to find a surgeon who specialises in your procedure.


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.