Skin Flap Surgery

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:

Skin flap surgery is done to cover a deep or large open wound or repair damaged skin. A skin flap is a portion of skin that is moved from one area of the body to another. The area the skin flap will be taken from is called the donor site. One end of the skin flap often remains attached to the donor site and to its blood supply. The other end of the skin flap is moved to cover the wound. Skin flaps and their blood vessels may be completely removed from the donor site and connected to blood vessels at the flap site.

CARE AGREEMENT:

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

RISKS:

You may bleed more than expected or get an infection. You may get a blood clot in your leg or arm. The clot may travel to your heart or brain and cause life-threatening problems, such as a heart attack or stroke. You could have an allergic reaction to an anesthesia medicine. You may have continued pain or swelling after the surgery. The flap site may not look and feel the way you expected. The surgery may not be successful and need to be done again. Without surgery, the pain and problems you have with your wound may get worse.

WHILE YOU ARE HERE:

Before your surgery:

  • Informed consent is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.

  • Anesthesia: This medicine is given to make you comfortable. You may not feel discomfort, pressure, or pain. An adult will need to drive you home and should stay with you for 24 hours. Ask your caregiver if you can drive or use machinery within 24 hours. Also ask if and when you can drink alcohol or use over-the-counter medicine. You may not want to make important decisions until 24 hours have passed.

  • An IV is a small tube placed in your vein that is used to give you medicine or liquids.

  • Pre-op care: You may be given medicine right before your procedure or surgery. This medicine may make you feel relaxed and sleepy. You are taken on a stretcher to the room where your procedure or surgery will be done, and then you are moved to a table or bed.

  • Vital signs: Caregivers will check your blood pressure, heart rate, breathing rate, and temperature. They will also ask about your pain. These vital signs give caregivers information about your current health.

During your surgery:

The wound is trimmed to produce a wound bed with edges. Incisions are made in the donor skin to create the flap. The skin flap is then separated from the structures underneath it. The thickness of the flap is made equal to the wound and includes a thin layer of fat. The flap is further trimmed to the exact size and shape of the wound site. The skin flap is moved over to the wound and stitches are used to attach it in place. The donor site is also closed with stitches. Both flap and donor sites are covered with bandages.

After your surgery:

You will be taken to a room where you can rest. Caregivers will check on you. When they see that you are ready, you may be allowed to go home. If you are staying in the hospital, you will be taken to your hospital room. Do not get out of bed until your caregiver says it is okay. A caregiver may remove the bandage soon after your surgery to check the area.

  • Activity: You may need to walk around the same day of surgery, or the day after. Movement will help prevent blood clots. You may also be given exercises to do in bed. Do not get out of bed on your own until your caregiver says you can. Talk to caregivers before you get up the first time. They may need to help you stand up safely. When you are able to get up on your own, sit or lie down right away if you feel weak or dizzy. Then press the call light button to let caregivers know you need help.

  • Antibiotics: This medicine is given to help treat or prevent an infection caused by bacteria.

  • Antinausea medicine: This medicine may be given to calm your stomach and to help prevent vomiting.

  • Pain medicine: You may be given a prescription medicine to decrease pain. Do not wait until the pain is severe before you ask for more medicine.

© 2014 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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