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Medical Miracles: Skin Graft

Meet your guide...

Jade Easland is a senior graduating with the class of 2018. Her interest is in the medical field specifically being an emergency room nurse. This interest came about after being in the ER room a couple of times and seeing the current demand for nurses. She is very excited to be able to help people and make them have a full recovery.

Skin Grafting

Medical Miracle

Skin Grafting is a surgical procedure that involves removing skin from one area of the body and moving it, or transplanting it, to a different area of the body for many reasons. This can be done when your body looses its protective covering of skin from burns, illnesses or injuries. This is a technique that has been used since 600 BC for appearance, punishments and modifications. The first skin graft used in the medical field was in 1917 where there was a transplant of undamaged skin onto a sailors face due to injuries he sustained. There are two types of skin grafts that are used for in different situations called split thickness grafts and full thickness grafts. Split Thickness grafts involve removing the top layer of the skin (epidermis) and it usually comes from the thigh, abdomen, buttocks or back. These grafts are used for larger areas and have a shiny or smooth appearance. The second type is Full Thickness grafts which removes all of the epidermis and dermis and is usually taken from the abdomen, groin, or forearm area. These grafts are used on highly visible parts of your body like your face, therefore they will have a better cosmetic appearance.

Significant Discovery

Skin grafting was originally used nearly 3000 years ago in the Hindu culture where they used the skin grafts to reconstruct noses that were amputated from judicial punishments. It wasn't used modernly till about the mid to late 19th century when a specialist named Sir Harold Gilles used the first graft from an unharmed area of the body and transferred it to the eyelid area. He was later known as the father of plastic surgery for his great techniques and work. Now we use it everyday in the hospital setting when people come in with burns, ulcers or other chronic condtions.

Emerging Innovations

There have been many new techniques to make skin grafting more efficient and reliable. The University of Missouri-Columbia is trying a new technique where only the top layer of skin is removed and there is less pain and damage. Their results concluded that more than half of the people they tried it on experienced less pain and their chronic wounds healed a lot faster than normal. Another new technique for skin grafting is where they liquefy the skin sample and place it on the site, it is called ReGenerCell. The best place to take a sample is either from the upper leg or thigh and then they add compounds that mimic the natural skin and and proteins, it takes a total time of 30 minutes to complete. They then spray the product on where ever it is needed and it is shown to cause less pain and reduce the size of the wound.

Social Impact

  Positive Effects  

Negative Effects

  • Promotes healing & keeps out infection
  • Function improves
  • Regulates body temperature
  • Skin can reject graft
  • Appearance can sometimes not match the other skin
  • High demand for patients with chronic needs 
  • New techniques are becoming easier to use
  • Medical staff can possibly catch diseases if not careful
  • You can do a good service and donate skin
  • Your religion may not accept you getting a surgery or someone else skin
  • Many people can become a donor and be registered
  • Can become a problem if the donor is incompetent 


  • Insurance can cover it 
  • High demand for it in chronic cases
  • If they do not cover it, it can be anywhere from $1,967 to $2,502
  • Lower demographics are more prone and cannot afford




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What do you think?

Have you ever gotten a skin graft?
yes: 0 votes (0%)
no: 2 votes (100%)
know someone who has: 0 votes (0%)
never heard of it: 0 votes (0%)
Total Votes: 2

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Future Directions

There is still a lot about burns and the care of them that are still unknown. In the future they are hoping to work with stem cells because they are proven to accelerate burn healing time in the testing they have done. Another key factor with the stem cells is that they are proven to have less scarring on the skin after the procedure. There are also things being done within the pharmacies to help with the burns, including statins which is a lipid-lowering medication that has anti-inflammatory properties to help the graft survive. I think all of the new technology we are developing is going to help the medical field a lot including issues with burns. With all of this I think our techniques and strategies are only going to get better and eventually we are going to find the best solution to have skin grafts grow healthy and not reject.

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