Skin Grafting – Types, Procedure, Treatment, and Recovery

Some patients experience burns or injuries to their skin and it has to be treated properly. An effective treatment is skin grafting. This grafting is a procedure that involves taking skin from one area of the patient’s body and then transplanting it to the affected area of the body. This surgical procedure is a solution when a part of your body has a permanently damaged skin due to injury, burns or even illness.

There are many reasons for taking up the skin grafting procedure. But the common reasons are deep burns, skin infections, open wounds, ulcers on the skin, skin cancer surgery, etc.  We can say that it is a cosmetic surgery that improves the appearance of a skin area that is burned or damaged for other reasons.  Skin grafting is a surefire surgical treatment to make the skin area look as before to larger extent. However, the surgeon will inspect the condition carefully to find out which type of skin grafting will be the best treatment.


Here are the types of skin grafting.

Basically, there are two types of skin grafts. These are known as split-thickness and full-thickness skin grafts.

Split-thickness grafts

When the procedure involves removing the epidermis, which is the top skin layer, it is known as the split-thickness graft. But some portion of the deeper skin layer also is involved in the procedure. The surgeon takes these layers of skin from the patient’s donor site of the body where there is the healthier skin. Usually, the donor area is the abdomen, back, buttocks, and the front or outer thigh.  The surgeon will then graft the skin to the concerned area of treatment.

Generally, this type of skin graft is taken up for treatment of larger areas. But these are fragile grafts and have a shiny appearance. As compared to the nearby skin, the grafted skin looks paler. The grafted skin also does not grow readily.

Full-thickness grafts  

In full-thickness grafts procedure, the surgeon removes the entire epidermis and dermis from the patient’s donor site. The skin is taken from forearm, abdomen, the area above the collarbone, or groin. Generally, full-thickness grafts are used for the graft treatment of small wounds on the face or other such parts which are highly visible. The cosmetic outcome of this grafting procedure is much better than split-thickness graft.


The surgeon will plan the surgery well in advance of several weeks so that you can prepare. You will be advised to tell about any medication or prescriptions you are taking. You need to stop taking aspirin and other blood thinner medication before the surgery.  You will also be asked to quit smoking ahead of the surgery.  You will also be required to have someone to drive you home as you will be under the influence of general anesthesia even after the surgery.

The cosmetic surgeon in Delhi will select a donor site to remove the skin from it. In split-thickness graft procedure, the donor site is generally the one that is hidden under clothing such as outside of thighs, and hip. In the full-thickness graft, donor sites are usually abdomen, forearm, collarbone, or groin.

After the skin is removed, the surgeon will transplant it on the area of treatment. Then, the area will be carefully stitched, stapled, and dressed. In the case of split-thickness graft, the surgeon may create multiple holes in the graft. This is done to stretch out the small piece of skin. This also helps in draining out fluid from under the skin graft.


After the surgical procedure is complete, the hospital staff will monitor your conditions and vital signs. To manage the pain, you will be given some medication.  The patients who underwent a split-thickness graft are advised to stay in the hospital for a few more days until the donor site and the graft heals.

Generally, the grafted skin develops blood vessels within 36 hours. If that does not happen, then it is the sign that your body has rejected the graft.  This may be because of infection, fluid retention under the grafted skin or movement of the graft. If there is poor blood flow to the grafted area or you smoke, the graft may fail. You will be advised to undergo another graft surgery.

At, generally, heals in one to two weeks. The graft site, however, takes a longer time to heal. It may take three to four weeks to heal after the surgery.

The doctor will prescribe some painkillers to manage the pain after you leave the hospital. You will also be advised to take good care of the graft and the donor site so that it is safe from any infection. The doctor will also advise you to avoid stretching activity so that there is no injury to the graft side.  Visit the doctor again to get advice on resuming your normal activities.

You may also like