​Skin Grafting for Primary Burn

A skin graft is a surgical procedure where damaged scar tissues are replaced with sections of your own healthy skin from another area (the donor site). There are two types of skin grafts: split-thickness grafts (when only a few layers of your outer skin are transplanted and replaced with healthy skin​) and full-thickness grafts (which involve surgically cutting away the whole skin from the donor site).

Skin grafting for burns leads to noticeable permanent scaring.


Skin grafting may become necessary if your burns are severe enough to limit your mobility and/or lead to loss of skin sensation. At times, the burn marks may become cosmetically unappealing to render the need for a skin grafting procedure necessary.
You should visit the 24/7 Emergency and Acute Care Services​ at The Aga Khan University Hospital urgently after a serious burn injury. Upon admission the burn will be inspected in order to make a judgment about the extent, severity and mechanism of your injury.
Your time with your doctor maybe limited, so make sure to prepare for your visit beforehand. Here​ are some tips to help get you started

When you visit the doctor with a burn injury, they will conduct a physical examination of the affected area. They will inspect your burnt skin and determine the total percentage, degree and the severity of damage of the impacted area. The critical areas of burn include your face, eyes, ears, legs, arms, feet and groin. The other areas of body will also be inspected to assess whether the burn has affected the rest of your body.

Following the physical examination, the doctor may also further tests and diagnostic procedures, including lab tests or X-rays. 

There are two forms of basic skin grafts: split-level thickness and full thickness.

  • Split-level thickness grafts – This is the more common of the two types of basic skin grafts. It involves removing only the top layer (the epidermis) and the second layer (the dermis) of healthy skin from the donor site. The donor site is usually selected in an area that is well hidden by your clothes, such as your inner thigh or buttocks. Split-level grafts usually have a shiny or smooth texture, is paler than the adjoining skin and is quite fragile. The graft it used to cover large areas of skin, and is held in place by either the gentle pressure from a well-padded dresser which is placed on top of the graft or by a few small stiches or staples Because these do not grow along with the rest of your skin, you or your loved one may need additional grafts as they grow older.

  • Full-thickness graft – If you suffer from deeper tissue loss, you may require a full-thickness graft. This is a more complicated procedure compared to a split-thickness graft, and involves removing muscles and blood vessels along with the top layers of skin from the donor site. Possible donor sites for this type of graft are the chest wall, back, or abdominal wall. These grafts tend to be used for relatively smaller wounds located on highly visible parts of your body, such as on your face. Unlike split-level thickness grafts, full-thickness grafts blend in well with the skin that surrounds your wound, and usually grows as the patient grows older.

Please click here​ for some guidelines on “what to do before your surgery”
Please click here​ for some guidelines on “what to do on the day of your surgery”

Possible risks for a skin-graft surgery include:

  • Bleeding

  • Infection

  • The graft does not heal properly, heals slowly, or does not ‘take’

  • Increased sensitivity or a reduced level of skin sensation

  • Scarring

  • Discolouration of your skin

  • An uneven skin surface

  • Risks associated with general anaesthesia, such as pain, bloating, gas or diarrhoea.

Please click here​ for some guidelines on “what to do on after your surgery”
The Aga Khan University Hospital offers various support services to help with managing or recovering from the disease or condition. These include but are not limited to nutrition, physiotherapy, rehabilitation, specialized clinics and some patient support groups. Your doctor or nurse will advise you accordingly.
The Aga Khan University Hospital offers financial assistance to those who are in need and fulfil the eligibility criteria. For further information, you can contact the Patient Welfare Department. You can find the contact number of the Patient Welfare Department in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.
The financial counselling staff is available during office hours, at the main PBSD (Patient Business Services Department), to answer your financial queries on treatments’ costs and authorize admissions on partial deposit as per hospital policies allow. The financial counsellor in the emergency room is open 24/7. You can find the contact number of the Patient Business Services in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.
Your doctor and or nurse will give you specific instructions about the prescribed medication. Please ensure that you take or use the prescribed medicine as advised. It can be dangerous to your health if you self-prescribe. Please inform the doctor or nurse beforehand if you have experienced any adverse reactions to any medications in the past. If you experience any symptoms of drug poisoning, overdose or severe reaction please contact the Pharmacy Service at The Aga Khan University Hospital immediately. You can find the contact number of the Pharmacy Services in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.


The information provided on our website is for educational purposes and not intended to be a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. You should always seek the advice of your doctor or other healthcare professional provider.