Zocdoc Answers

Medical questions & health advice by licensed doctors

"What is a split thickness skin graft?"


How does this differ from a full skin graft?


There are two different types of skin grafts. Split thickness and full thickness. There are advantages and disadvantages to each and therefore, depending on the application, different ones are used in different places.

See a doctor who can help

Find a Dermatologists near you

The key difference in the two is the depth of the graft: -Split thickness skin graft uses the epidermis and small, varying amounts of dermis layers of the skin. -Full thickness skin graft uses all of the epidermis and all of the dermis (deeper) layers of the skin. The difference between the two is that split thickness skin grafts are thinner, can cover larger areas and have graft success rates of close to 100%. However they do tend to contract (become smaller) over time. They also don't always match the texture and color of the surrounding skin quite as well as full thickness grafts do. Full thickness grafts are therefore usually reserved for special areas that require full thickness grafts such as palms of hands or areas of the face, where cosmesis is more important. Full thickness grafts tend not to contract as much (retain original size) and have better texture and color (pigmentation) match to the surrounding skin. On the downside they don't always graft successfully and the amount that can be grafted is limited, because the donor site is usually not regenerated like the split thickness grafts. I highly recommend talking to your plastic surgeon regarding all of the options regarding skin grafting.

Zocdoc Answers is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.