When most tissues get damaged, they are either repaired or replaced with a transplant of tissue from another area of the body. This healthy tissue is called a graft and can be harvested from the patient’s own body or from a donor (cadaver). When skin for grafting is removed from one area of the body and transplanted to another area of the same body, it is known as autograft.
The skin autograft is usually performed under general anaesthesia or local anaesthesia and sedation. Your surgeon harvests a piece of skin usually from buttock or upper thigh. This area is called the donor site. The healthy skin is then placed and secured on the diseased area and is fastened with staples or stitches. A bolster dressing applied to the graft and an absorbent dressing is applied to the donor area. The graft is taken down after 3-5 days and will require dressings for another 3-4 weeks to mature. The donor site heals by itself and is taken down around 10 days.
Yes (seek confirmation from your private health fund)
What are the indications for an autografts?
Autograft is indicated for burns, skin loss due to infection, cancer or reconstructive surgeries, ulcers that do not heal such as venous, pressure or diabetic ulcers and for traumatic wounds.
What are the different types of autograft?
Skin autografting involves two techniques:
- Split-thickness is the most common type where skin is taken from the epidermis (top layer) and dermis (middle layer) from the donor site.
- Full-thickness skin grafting is for people with a deeper skin loss where skin is taken from the skin (including the epidermis, the dermis, and the bottom layer of the skin called the hypodermis), along with the underlying muscle layer and blood supply. The donor area for full-thickness skin graft includes the back, abdominal wall or chest wall.
What are the risks and complications of autografts?
As with any surgery, autograft also involves certain risks and complications which include infection, bleeding, increased sensitivity or decreased skin sensation, discoloured skin and uneven skin tone.
What are allografts and xenografts?
These are grafts taken from cadavers (allografts) and animals (xenografts). They are uncommonly used in this practice and are more often indicated in complex burns surgery and reconstruction.