Wound Closure with Skin Graft Surgery

Wound Closure with Skin Graft

A skin graft surgery in which a skin piece is entirely removed from the patient's body and placed on the wound for closure. The blood vessels will grow faster under the skin graft for wound closure to regain normal functioning. But if the blood vessels do not proliferate under the skin graft, the graft will die after a specific duration. Therefore, the wound should have proper nutrients for supporting the graft. Plus, the surgeon will carefully prepare the graft so the blood vessels can easily grow into the graft.

Signs for Skin Grafts

  • Traumatic Incidents
  • Thermal Burns
  • Chemical Burns
  • Oncological Surgery – Tumor Removal
  • Injected Medicines
  • Injected Anesthesia

Contraindications for Animal Skin Graft

The skin grafts will not die in the following cases:

  • Over the bone
  • Over the ligaments and tendons
  • Poorly vascular wound beds
  • Infection in the wound
  • High-motion locations

Types of Skin Grafts for Wound Closure

Full-Thickness Skin Grafts

This kind of skin graft surgery is common in cats and dogs. It involves the removal of the skin piece and the fat under the skin. Besides, the donor site used for wound skin graft should be loose so the incision can be closed. But the survival of the partial and full thickness of skin grafting is similar.

Partial Thickness Skin Grafts

The partial thickness of the animal skin graft includes a thin layer of the donor site. Therefore, a thin layer of skin will be on the donor site for skin grafting. No hair will grow on the skin because the hair follicles are quite deep. Plus, the donor site will be healing, but it requires some time. In addition, this type of graft donor will be painful. The partial thickness of the skin grafting is done in cases where the dogs have massive skin burns or loss.

Wound Preparation and Skin Graft Surgery

  • Skin graft surgery entails a fastidious bed for efficient results on the patient's skin.
  • If there is not an ideal surface for a skin graft, there are high chance that there will be a delay unless a healthy tissue bed is developed.
  • It will take about seven to ten days if there is any delay in the healing process of the skin graft.
  • It would be best to cover the wound bed with a bandage.
  • The bandage should be replaced every day until skin grafting is completely performed.
  • Excessive tissue on the granulation will be trimmed down on the surface edges, and the grafting procedure will be delayed for a few days.

Skin Graft Procedure

  • The pet will be anesthetized before the skin graft procedure begins; the site is chosen for the skin grafting. For instance, there will be enough skin present at that donor site. The donor site will be the chest or abdomen region so it does not cause any ill effects to the patient.
  • Once the skin graft for wound closure is elevated, the fat is cut off under the skin.
  • The skin graft will have tiny-sized holes to allow the fluid to escape under the flap.
  • The skin graft for wounds will be sutured over the wound, and the limb should be bandaged.
  • The bandage will be kept for 4 to 5 days.
  • Care is required while changing the bandage so that the skin graft is not pulled off from the wound bed, and the bandage material should not adhere to the skin.
  • After seven days of the surgery, the graft should be secured for the granulation of the tissue bed.
  • Next, all the layers of the bandage should be removed.
  • Approximately 99 percent of the graft will be survived, and the patient will be normal.
  • The animal skin graft has a covering over the distal extremities.
  • The hair growth on the skin graft for wound closure will be sparse, and it is related to the damage to the hair follicles during the skin graft's collection.
  • The hair will be aligned in the right direction to match the native coat of the limb.

Post-Operative Care of Skin Graft Surgery 

  • The pet's activity should be limited after the surgical skin grafting procedure.
  • The bandage should be dry.
  • There should not be any swelling or coldness, especially if the grafting is done on the limb.
  • You have to return to the veterinary surgeon to change the bandage.
  • Once the bandage is no longer required, you can cover the skin graft with a cloth or sock for three to four weeks to prevent the pet from chewing at the graft area.


  • Almost 95 to 100 percent of the skin grafting cases are successful with the perfect wound bed.
  • Restricting the pet's activity is essential, especially after one week of surgery.
  • The skin grafts will not let the hair on the skin grow frequently, but it is essential to cover the wound for seven weeks after the operation.

Skin Graft Healing Stages

So, your pet had a skin graft surgery, and you're wondering, "What's next?" Well, you're in the right place. We will break down the skin graft healing process into simple, bite-sized pieces. Think of it like the stages of a butterfly's life but for your pet's skin.

Immediate Post-Operative Phase

First, the surgery's done, the hard part's over, but now what? That's the "Immediate Post-Operative Phase." New graft needs some time to settle in and get comfy. For about 48 hours, it'll lie low, getting its bearings and making sure it sticks to the wound bed. Keeping it clean, dry, and well-protected during this crucial stage is essential.

Plasmatic Imbibition Phase

Next, we got the "Plasmatic Imbibition Phase," a fancy way of saying the graft starts absorbing nutrients from the wound bed. Imagine it's soaking up all the goodness like a sponge! This lasts about 2-3 days, helping the graft strengthen and prepare for what's next.

Capillary Inosculation Phase

Afterward, there is the "Capillary Inosculation Phase." Now, don't let the big words throw you. It's just where tiny blood vessels form between the graft and wound bed, giving life to your graft. It's an absolute "Hey, nice to meet you!" moment between the graft and its new home. This critical thing happens around days 3 to 5 post-operation.

Revascularization Phase

The "Revascularization Phase" then kicks in. It's the stage where new blood vessels fully develop and flow into the graft. Kind of like the graft's first sip of a refreshing drink after a long journey. This phase can last for several weeks, when your graft starts to feel like a part of you.

Maturation Phase

Finally, it's time for the "Maturation Phase." At this point, your graft's been through the ringer. It's weathered the storm and is now more substantial and more robust. The new skin becomes a fully integrated part of the body, and over months to a year, it'll remodel itself to look and feel as close to the original skin as possible.

Now remember, this is just the average roadmap. Everyone's body is different, so your mileage may vary. Always keep in touch with your doc and follow their advice to a T. They're your guide on this journey.

There you have it—the winding path of skin graft healing stages. 

How Does a Cat Skin Graft Differ from A Dog Skin Graft?

Both cats and dogs can benefit from skin graft surgery, which means taking a patch of skin from one part of the body and moving it to another. But the process can be like night and day, depending on whether your patient is a purring princess or a dashing doggo.

Cat Skin Graft

Let's talk cats first. Now, cats are curious creatures. Their skin is stretchier and more elastic than a dog's. If you've ever seen a cat squeeze through a tight spot, you'll know what I'm talking about. This elasticity can be a blessing in disguise when it comes to skin grafts. It makes the surgery easier and recovery a breeze. But hold on! There's a twist. Cats are also super susceptible to infection, so they need a lot of careful monitoring post-op. That's what makes a cat skin graft a wee bit tricky.

Dog Skin Graft

Moving on to dogs. These loyal companions have stricter skin, not as elastic as cats. This means the vet has to work harder to get a good graft, and recovery can be rough. But get this: dogs are usually more resilient to infections than cats. So, while the surgery might be more challenging, post-op care can be easier.

So, there you have it! At a glance, a cat and dog skin graft are two sides of the same coin. But, just like our pets, each one's unique in its own quirky way. And that's what makes this whole topic so darn interesting!

What Is Skin Graft Surgery Cost?

The skin graft surgery cost for pets can vary depending on a number of factors, including the size of the wound, the type of skin graft used, the wound's location, and the veterinarian's expertise. Generally, the cost of a skin graft for pet wounds ranges from $200 to $1,000 or more.