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What to Expect: Getting a Skin Graft

The child life specialists at Children's Mercy help children cope with the feelings they may have about their illness, injury, disability, or hospitalization. They have created the guide below to help your child prepare and understand what to expect when they come to Children's Mercy for a skin graft.

What is a skin graft?

A skin graft is when healthy skin is taken from one area of your body called the donor site and moved to an area where the skin has been burned called the graft site. If possible, the donor site will be on an area of your body that can be hidden by clothes.

Illustration of a leg missing skin (donor site).
Example of donor site
Illustration of a leg with burn and another illustration with the burn covered with a skin graft.
Example of graft site

Why do I need a skin graft?

Because your burn is deep, you need a skin graft. The skin graft will help your body heal faster, protect your body from germs and can help your burned area look and work better.

What can I expect during my skin graft procedure?

You will be given a medicine called anesthesia to help you stay asleep during the skin graft procedure. You will wake up when the procedure is done. You will not feel any pain during the procedure.

What can I expect after my skin graft procedure?

Your donor site and graft site may feel sore at first but will feel better as they heal.

For your graft site:

  • A bandage or dressing stays on your graft site for many days before it is changed.
  • It is very important that the graft site stays protected and dry so that it can heal well.
  • Although the healing process may be different for each person, the graft site may be healed in 2 to 3 weeks.

For your donor site:

  • You will have a bandage or dressing on your donor site.
  • This area will heal within 1 to 2 weeks.

You will have burn care appointments until your doctors and nurses decide that you no longer need treatment.


If you have questions about how to talk to your child, please contact Child Life at (816) 983-6870.