These procedures are more complex than the other forms of treatment discussed so far, and they are used for more extensive and severe scarring. The healing process can take weeks or months, and a support garment or bandage is often required for as long as a year.
During a skin graft, a portion of skin is removed from a healthy area of the body (referred to as the “donor site”) and placed over the injured area. The graft is considered successful and said to “take” if new blood vessels and scar tissue begin to grow on the site of the wound. Although most grafts taken from a person’s own body do take, occasionally they will fail. All grafting procedures leave some scars at the donor site as well as the recipient site.
Flap surgery involves removing not only skin, but also the underlying fat, blood vessels, and occasional muscle tissue, from a healthy area on a person’s body and replacing it over the injured site. During some flap procedures, the blood vessels retain their attachment at the original site; in others, the blood vessels included in the flap are attached to blood vessels in the injured area through microvascular surgery.