How to Care for a Skin Graft
Skin grafts are used to replace skin that has been damaged beyond repair due to ulcerations, wounds or burns. According to the Baylor College of Medicine, there are three types of skin grafts: autografts, allografts and xenografts. Autografts are patches of healthy skin from another part of the body; allografts are from donors or skin substitutes; and xenografts are made from animals skin, generally pigs. After the surgery, it is important to follow the specific guidelines the surgeon gives you about postoperative care.
Clean around the base of the bandage with a cotton-tipped swab and clean water twice a day to remove any dried blood. According to the Carolina Skin Surgery Center, do not remove the bandage; this bandages will be taken off at your follow-up appointment. If the bandage does come off before the one-week appointment, apply Vaseline to the skin graft, wrap with a non-adherent gauze and tape, and call your surgeon.
Apply an ample amount of Vaseline over the entire bandage to keep the skin graft moist. Skin grafts do not have sweat glands or oil glands, and the Vaseline keeps the skin graft from drying and cracking, reports the Encyclopedia of Surgery.
Clean yourself by taking a shower at least 48 hours after the surgery. Do not take a bath, go swimming or submerge the skin graft site in any water.
Stop smoking for three weeks if you are a smoker. According to the Carolina Skin Surgery Center, smoking can kill the skin cells, causing the skin graft not to take and die.
Apply lotion to the skin graft when your doctor advises you to do so. According to the Baylor College of Medicine, regeneration occurs once a skin graft is in place. Regeneration includes the regrowth of hair, sweat and sebaceous glands. If you had a partial-thickness graft, then you may not have sweat glands in the skin graft site.
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