What is a skin graft?
Skin grafting is a type of surgery. Patches of skin are attached over a wound to help it heal. To perform a skin graft, surgeons remove healthy skin from a patient’s body and attach it to the wounded area.
Who do skin grafts usually affect?
Doctors prescribe a skin graft when an area of skin is so damaged that it may not be able to regenerate on its own. There are several traumatic injuries, medical conditions and post-surgical procedures that may require skin grafts as part of the treatment process. Skin grafting is only one means of reconstructing a defect in the skin, regardless of the cause of the defect. Most commonly, it is used for reconstruction after the surgical removal of cutaneous malignancies; however, skin grafts are also used to cover chronic non-healing cutaneous ulcers, to replace tissue lost in full-thickness burns, and to restore hair to areas of alopecia.
What are common symptoms of a compromised skin graft?
Unfortunately, some skin grafts can form infections in the area between the donor skin and the wound. Fluid can build up underneath the donor skin, preventing it from successfully attaching to the wound site.
What are the traditional treatments for compromised skin grafts?
In these cases, the graft is said to “fail,” and will need to be reattempted with a new batch of donor skin.
Why are skin grafts amenable to oxygen therapy and what benefits can be expected?
Skin grafts take time to heal — this applies to both the donor site and the graft area. And unfortunately, grafts don’t always work the first time. Skin cannot survive without oxygen. The best way to infuse skin cells with oxygen and other nutrients is through the blood. Healthy, living skin is full of tiny blood vessels that channel the body’s blood supply to grow new skin cells and sustain older ones.For a skin graft to heal, it must grow and activate new blood vessels. In a successful graft, this regeneration process begins as quickly as 36 hours after surgery.Because oxygen is so important to the healing process, some doctors prescribe hyperbaric oxygen therapy. Inside a hyperbaric chamber, the patient is exposed to a 100 percent oxygen environment at twice the normal atmospheric pressure. These intense blasts of pure oxygen can speed the healing process of skin grafts.
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