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Substitutes to Skin Grafting: a Technological Approach to Ulcer Care

Substitutes to Skin Grafting: a Technological Approach to Ulcer Care

When your diabetic ulcer or wound doesn’t go away, one of the ways to treat it for good is with a graft. Grafting covers your ulcer with a temporary or permanent substance safely.

Traditionally, skin grafting uses your skin to create a covering; however, board-certified podiatrist Thomas Rambacher, DPM, FACFAS, FAPWCA, practicing at Podiatry Hotline Foot & Ankle in Mission Viejo, California, finds substitute substances often work at least as well, or even better, than using your own skin. Keep reading to learn more about the different types of ulcer grafts you can get.

What is grafting?

Grafting is a technique that replaces your skin in an area where you’re having difficulty regrowing the skin yourself. In this surgical procedure, Dr. Rambacher covers your ulcer or other foot or ankle wound with skin from another part of your body or a different substitute substance.

Once the substance covers your wound, it naturally attaches to the skin around it and becomes part of your foot or ankle. Sometimes, Dr. Rambacher also recommends a temporary graft, which covers your skin until your skin regrows, at which point he removes the graft.

Types of skin grafting substitutes

In the past, grafting always means using your skin or tissues or possibly the skin or tissue of a donor. Now, it’s possible to safely and effectively use other types of materials to graft your ulcer.

Substitutes for traditional grafting include amniotic and synthetic grafts.

Amniotic skin grafting

Amniotic skin grafts use amniotic fluid or membrane, the thin layer of fluid surrounding a growing baby in the womb. Your amniotic fluid or membrane is donated by a donor who is healthy and living.

Amniotic fluid is injected into your foot or ankle near the ulcer. The injection introduces healthy cells into your body, which promotes the healing of the ulcer and your body’s regeneration of healthy skin over the wound.

Dr. Rambacher uses the thin membrane to surgically cover your wound as a graft when using an amniotic membrane. The membrane from amniotic grafts is thin, elastic, and durable, making it an ideal skin substitute.

Synthetic skin grafting

Synthetic skin grafts are manufactured skin substitutes with properties that are very similar to skin. Skin substitutes use substances like collagen, hydrogel, and silicone to create natural skin-like substances.

Some synthetic grafts also use materials like skin from a human donor, an animal, or an amniotic membrane to make them even more similar to your skin. Once Dr. Rambacher has attached the synthetic skin to your ulcer, it looks and feels just like your actual skin.

Advantages of skin grafting substitutes

For many people, amniotic and synthetic skin grafting are preferable to skin grafts. They don’t require you to use your own skin, shortening the surgical procedure and providing a stronger substitute if your skin is unhealthy or you’ve lost a lot of skin.

Amniotic and synthetic skin can be less infection-resistant, help keep the wound from reopening, and promote faster healing. When you have an ulcer that needs a skin graft, Dr. Rambacher carefully evaluates your ulcer to determine which type of grafting works best for your needs.

If you have a diabetic wound or ulcer that isn’t healing, alternative or traditional skin grafting might be the right solution. Contact our team today to schedule a consultation.

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