The Self-Assembled Skin Substitute History: Successes, Challenges, and Current Treatment Indications

J Burn Care Res. 2023 Jan 2;44(Supplement_1):S57-S64. doi: 10.1093/jbcr/irac074.


The self-assembled skin substitute (SASS) is an autologous bilayered skin substitute designed by our academic laboratory, the Laboratoire d'Organogenèse Expérimentale (LOEX) to offer definitive treatment for patients lacking donor sites (unwounded skin) to cover their burn wounds. This product shows skin-like attributes, such as an autologous dermal and epidermal layer, and is easily manipulable by the surgeon. Its development stems from the need for skin replacement in high total body surface area burned survivors presenting few donor sites for standard split-thickness skin grafting. This review aims to present the history, successes, challenges, and current therapeutic indications of this skin substitute. We review the product's development history, before discussing current production techniques, as well as clinical use. The progression observed since the initial SASS production technique described in 1999, up to the most recent technique expresses significant advances made in the technical aspect of our product, such as the reduction of the production time. We then explore the efficacy and benefits of SASS over existing skin substitutes and discuss the outcomes of a recent study focusing on the successful treatment of 14 patients. Moreover, an ongoing cross-Canada study is further assessing the product's safety and efficacy. The limitations and technical challenges of SASS are also discussed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Burns* / surgery
  • Epidermis
  • Humans
  • Skin
  • Skin Transplantation / methods
  • Skin, Artificial*