A skin graft is the removal of a healthy patch of skin from one area (donor site) and transferred to a different area of the body (recipient site). They are utilized when a wound in unable to heal for a period of time such as diabetic ulcers, pressure ulcers or venous ulcers or when a wound is too large to heal by itself. Skin grafts can be either full thickness or partial thickness.
Full thickness skin grafts contain the entire epidermis and dermis layers of the skin. It includes the skin’s blood supply and skin appendages such as hair follicles and sweat glands. Full thickness skin grafts do not integrate with the recipient site as well as split thickness grafts, however they lead to less shrinkage and contractures.
Split thickness skin grafts include the epidermis and part of the dermis layers therefore it does not include hair follicles and sweat glands. This is ideal when placing a graft on the bottom of the foot since we would not want hair growing in places in normally does not grow. These grafts are more commonly used because they incorporate with the recipient site more easily. The disadvantage of these grafts is that they shrink and can lead to contractures.