Back Grafting the Split-Thickness Skin Graft Donor Site

J Burn Care Res. 2017 Jan/Feb;38(1):e443-e449. doi: 10.1097/BCR.0000000000000314.


Split-thickness skin grafting is a useful method of wound repair in burn and reconstructive operations. However, skin grafts require a donor site injury that creates a secondary wound at risk for delayed wound healing. Though in young healthy patients such donor sites have minimal risk, patients with risk factors for delayed wound healing are more challenging. We present a method for graft donor site management that offers an alternative to healing by secondary intention for patients with higher risk of poor wound healing. In those patients considered to be at high risk for donor site healing complications, we chose to treat the donor site with a split-thickness skin graft, or "graft back" procedure. An additional graft is taken adjacent to the initial donor site, and meshed 4:1 to cover both donor sites at once. Out of the 17 patients who received this procedure, 1 patient had a complication from the procedure that did not require an operation, and all patients appear to have good functional and cosmetic outcomes. No patients had any graft loss or graft infection. Histologic analysis showed complete epithelialization of the back-grafted area. The graft back method converts an open wound to a covered wound and may result in decreased wound healing time, improved cosmetic outcomes, and fewer complications, particularly in patients where wound healing is a concern. Importantly, it seems to have minimal morbidity. More detailed prospective studies are needed to ensure no additional risk is incurred by this procedure.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Back
  • Burns / pathology
  • Burns / surgery*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Skin Transplantation*
  • Surgical Mesh
  • Transplant Donor Site / pathology
  • Transplant Donor Site / surgery*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Wound Healing
  • Young Adult