A wound that is wide and difficult or impossible
to close directly may be treated with a
skin graft. A skin graft is basically a
patch of healthy skin that is taken from
one area of the body, called the "donor
site," and used to cover another area
where skin is missing or damaged. There
are three basic types of skin grafts.
A split-thickness skin graft, commonly used
to treat burn wounds, uses only the layers
of skin closest to the surface. When possible,
your plastic surgeon will choose a less
conspicuous donor site. Location will be
determined in part by the size and color
of the skin patch needed. The skin will
grow back at the donor site, however, it
may be a bit lighter in color.
A full-thickness skin graft might be used
to treat a burn wound that is deep and large,
or to cover jointed areas where maximum
skin elasticity and movement are needed.
As its name implies, the surgeon lifts a
full-thickness (all layers) section of skin
from the donor site. A thin line scar usually
results from a direct wound closure at the
A composite graft is used when the wound
to be covered needs more underlying support,
as with skin cancer on the nose. A composite
graft requires lifting all the layers of
skin, fat, and sometimes the underlying
cartilage from the donor site. A straight-line
scar will remain at the site where the graft
was taken. It will fade with time.