A skin graft surgery is the removal and transplantation of healthy skin from one area of the body to another area. It is done to replace the skin in an area where the skin has been severely damaged. The source sites most commonly used for skin grafts are the inner thigh, buttocks, below the collarbone, in front of and behind the ear, and the upper arm.

The use of your own skin as the source area is called an autograft. If there is not enough skin on the body to provide graft coverage, skin may be harvested from outside sources. These alternate sources are only meant for temporary use until your own skin grows back. Three common options are:

  1. Allograft—skin taken from another human source, such as a cadaver
  2. Xenograft—skin taken from an animal source
  3. Synthetic tissue

Skin grafts are done to:

  • Promote healing of:
    • Large burns
    • Large wounds
    • Venous ulcers
    • Pressure ulcers, also known as bedsores
    • Diabetic ulcers
  • Reconstruct skin removed during surgery, such as following breast cancer surgery or for a serious skin infection

A successful skin graft will result in transplanted skin adhering and growing into the recipient area. Cosmetic results may vary, based on factors such as the type of skin graft used and the recipient site.