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Skin Grafts and Flaps


Surgically repairing complicated wounds is done by transferring tissues to the wound from a different part of the body. A skin graft is the transfer of a portion of skin to a wound. The transferred skin relies on the blood supply at the wound site for survival, as it does not have its own. A flap is the transfer of more than one component of tissue such as muscle, subcutaneous tissue or bone. Flaps are transferred with their own blood supply or with detached vessels that are brought to the site of the wound.

Skin grafts thrive when oxygen and nutrients are provided to them from the underlying wound bed. When the wound does not have enough blood supply, the skin graft will partially or completely fail. Examples of wounds which may not support a skin graft include diabetic, previously irradiation to wound area, and other wounds which have low amounts of oxygen i.e. wounds in patients who smoke. Hyperbaric oxygen can prepare the wound bed for a successful skin graft by oxygenating the tissues and causing the growth of new blood vessels to support them.

Flaps also need oxygen and nutrients to survive. The superficial portion of the graft usually is furthest from the point of blood supply. Hyperbaric oxygen can help a failing flap survive and minimize tissue loss. Partial or complete loss of a graft or flap is very difficult for patients. Preparation for skin grafts is a common diagnosis treated with hyperbaric oxygen and can easily be treated at Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatment Centers in Randolph, Massachusetts.