These are a simple – and limited – procedure to borrow spare skin from one part of the body to another. They are straightforward and quick to perform.
They are classified as either split skin graft – where a superficial part of the skin is used – or full-thickness skin graft.
There are some differences and situations where one may be better than an other.
All skin grafts involve detaching a piece of skin from its blood supply completely and laying it on to a healthy wound bed. Because they no longer have their own blood supply, they require nutrients and blood from the wound bed they are applied to. This process of vessel ingrowth takes several days and during this period the graft will be immobilised to permit this to occur.
Unfortunately because of the nature and complexity of the defects occurring in the head and neck after cancer surgery, skin grafts have a very limited role and are not usually employed except on occasion for very superficial wounds.