Skin grafting is a serious wound care treatment that should only be used in the most extreme conditions. This procedure involves a patch of healthy skin being removed from one part of the body to be transplanted to another area that truly needs it. This method is used when an injury has resulted in deep tissue damage where surgical debridement is the only option to remove excess damaged skin. The following types of wounds are prime examples of when skin grafting can be an option:
- Severe burns
- Skin loss due to wound infection
- Removal of skin cancer
- Extensive trauma
- Ulcers that don’t heal
Skin grafting is an extremely complicated procedure that may require stripping the dermis and epidermis apart while using a skin mesh to help bond the skin together. Additionally, it may require the full-on removal of the entire thickness of the dermis, which often means tissue removal from the chest, abdominal wall or back. Due to the complexity of the surgery, skin grafting is commonly associated with a number of risks, which may include:
- internal bleeding.
- wound infection.
- reduced skin sensation.
- uneven skin surface.
- severe scarring.
However, there are a few alternative practices to consider for relieving the chronic wound healing stages.
This is a type of tissue-engineered skin substitute that is created by using a combination of the outer epidermal layer with an acellular matrix material to produce a biological skin substitute to cover an extensive wound. This artificial tissue can work to temporarily take over the essential functions of the removed epidermis while new skin cells slowly grow back. The procedure is mainly used to treat various types of ulcers and generally produces less pain and serious complications than skin grafting can generate.
Negative-pressure wound therapy
This type of treatment helps further healing with acute and chronic wounds, as well as severe first- and second-degree burn marks. Using a specially designed sealed dressing, a vacuum is placed over the covering and ejects fluid from the wound which in turn helps stimulate blood flow to the injured area. After blood circulation gets back on track and cell migration is once again active, using open-cell foam dressings and gauze tape to cover the wound will help the skin healing process progress without having to surgically remove a healthier part of your body.
Skin cell gun
While this device sounds like something out of a science fiction movie, a skin cell gun is one of the latest wound healingtechniques considered as an alternative to skin grafting. The device extracts adult stem cells from healthier regions of the body and applies them to the wound using a computer program that helps evenly distribute the cells throughout the injury site. The gun has been under development since 2008, and is not widely considered as a frequently used alternative to skin grafting, the device is slowly picking up momentum after extensive research on the device was analyzed at the University of Pittsburgh’s McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine.