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Skin Flap Surgery

WHAT YOU NEED TO 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.

HOW TO PREPARE:

The week before your surgery:

  • Arrange to have someone drive you home after your surgery.
  • Tell your healthcare provider about all medicines you currently take. He or she will tell you if you need to stop any medicine before the procedure, and when to stop. He or she will tell you which medicines to take or not take on the day of the procedure.
  • You may need to have blood tests, an EKG, or imaging tests. Ask your healthcare provider for more information about these and other tests that you may need. Write down the date, time, and location of each test.
  • Your healthcare provider may need to prepare the wound and donor sites before the surgery. He or she may need to clean the wound site by removing dead tissues and ask you to keep it free from germs.

The night before your surgery:

You may be told not to eat or drink anything after midnight.

The day of your surgery:

  • 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.
  • Take only the medicines your surgeon told you to take.
  • 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.

WHAT WILL HAPPEN:

What will happen:

Your surgeon will trim the wound to make a wound bed with edges. He or she will make incisions 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 correctly. Your surgeon will move the skin flap to the wound site and stitches will be used to attach it. He or she will place bandages 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.

CONTACT YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IF:

  • 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.

Risks

You may bleed more than expected or get an infection. 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. You may get a blood clot in your limb. This may become life-threatening.

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.