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Skin Flap Surgery


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.


The week before your surgery:

  • Arrange to have someone drive you home after your surgery. Do not drive yourself home.
  • Ask your healthcare provider if you need to stop using aspirin or any other prescribed or over-the-counter medicine before your procedure or surgery.
  • You may need to have blood tests, an electrocardiogram (ECG), chest x-ray, and other tests. Ask your healthcare provider for more information about the tests that you may need. Write down the date, time, and location of each test. Your healthcare provider may also need to prepare the wound and donor sites before the surgery. He may need to clean the wound site by removing dead tissues and ask you to keep it free from germs.
  • Write down the correct date, time, and location of your surgery.

The night before your surgery:

  • You may be given medicine to help you sleep.
  • Ask healthcare providers about directions for eating and drinking.

The day of your surgery:

  • Ask your healthcare provider before you take any medicine on the day of your surgery. Bring a list of all the medicines you take, or your pill bottles, with you to the hospital. Providers will check that your medicines will not interact poorly with the medicine you need for surgery.
  • Healthcare providers may insert an intravenous tube (IV) into your vein. A vein in the arm is usually chosen. Through the IV tube, you may be given liquids and medicine.
  • An anesthesiologist will talk to you before your surgery. You may need medicine to keep you asleep or numb an area of your body during surgery. Tell healthcare providers if you or anyone in your family has had a problem with anesthesia in the past.
  • You or a close family member will be asked to sign a legal document called a consent form. It gives healthcare providers permission to do the procedure or surgery. It also explains the problems that may happen, and your choices. Make sure all your questions are answered before you sign this form.


What will happen:

The wound will be trimmed to produce a wound bed with edges. Incisions will be made in the donor site to make the skin flap. The thickness of the skin flap will be made equal to the wound and will include a thin layer of fat. The skin flap will be further trimmed to the exact size and shape of the wound site so that it fits perfectly. It will be moved over to the wound site and stitches will be used to attach it. Bandages will be placed over the skin flap and donor site.

After your surgery:

You will be taken to a room where you can rest. Healthcare providers 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 healthcare provider says it is okay. A healthcare provider may remove the bandage soon after your surgery to check the area.


  • You cannot make it to your surgery on time.
  • You have a fever.
  • You have a skin infection or an infected wound near the area where the surgery will be done.
  • You have questions or concerns about your surgery.

Seek Care Immediately if

  • The problems for which you are having surgery get worse.
  • You have pain, swelling, redness, or pus coming out of your wound.


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.

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 healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

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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.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.