Thin-skin grafts taken from the thigh or buttock take a long time to heal and leave permanent scars.
The authors conducted a retrospective study based on their experience with 945 thin-skin grafts (0.2 mm) taken from the scalps of 757 adult patients between January of 1999 and December of 2003.
Of the 757 patients, 89 had grafts taken repeatedly from the scalp. The mean healing time was 6.2 days for a single harvest and 10.2 days for repeated (same hospitalization) harvests. During follow-up, eight patients had microalopecia and three developed “concrete scalp deformity.” Of these 11 patients, eight had undergone repeated harvests. None of the other patients had any scarring; they were completely healed by day 15.
The results of this study confirm the rapidity of scalp healing compared with other donor sites. Providing patients with clear, detailed explanations helps minimize the psychological impact of having their heads shaved, and a rigorous technique can contain the two major potential risks: hemorrhage and alopecia. The adult scalp seems to be a donor site to be exploited whenever possible.
From the Plastic, Aesthetic, Reconstructive and Burn Surgery Unit, Rothschild Hospital, and the Burn Unit, Saint-Antoine Hospital.
Received for publication November 29, 2004; accepted April 6, 2005.
Marc Chaouat, M.D., Service de Chirurgie Plastique, 33 Boulevard de Picpus, 75012 Paris, France, firstname.lastname@example.org