How It Works

How skin grafts work

Skin grafting is a medical procedure where a portion of skin is removed and stitched onto another part of the body. There are many cosmetic and medical reasons why this might be necessary: serious burns, surgery, tattoo removal and some medical conditions (skin cancer or diabetes, for example) might all necessitate skin grafting.

Autografts are skin grafts taken from the patient’s own body, usually the buttocks, neck or back of the arm. Depending on the size of the area that it’s removed from, it’s then stitched or stapled closed again and the new skin applied to the injured area. Allografts and xenografts, meanwhile – taken from other humans and animals, respectively – are temporary grafts.

But perhaps most interesting is the artificial ‘skin’ called Integra, made of animal collagen that gives the damaged part an organic scaffolding for new skin to grow into. This is usually used in cases of extreme burns where there isn’t enough healthy skin for an autograft.