Plastic Surgeon Questions Diabetes

Are there chances of complications in skin grafting for diabetic patient?

My husband is a diabetes patient and is due to undergo a skin grafting procedure. I know that typically patients with diabetes have a harder time healing. Should we be concerned about complications?

6 Answers

Considering the wound itself is clean and ready for a skin graft, the risk for failing is not that different in diabetics if blood sugar is well controlled. This will also depend on where in the body the skin graft is done to as blood circulation might be decreased in certain areas making the skin graft more likely to fail. The donor site, where the skin graft is taken from, might take slightly longer to heal.
The chances of infection or graft loss are higher in diabetics, but with good glycemic control, a good result is certainly possible.
Yes, there are complications.
If your husband's sugars are well-controlled, his risk of complications should be no different someone without DM.

Wendell G. Miles, M.D., F.A.C.S.
Thank you for your question.

The complications that may occur, are basically 2: The skin graft done may not take, due to poor circulation secondary to diabetes, in the case that the recipient site is an ulcer. The other potential complication is lack of healing of the donor site. However, these are the regular complications that anyone undergoing a skin graft has. Discuss at length this fact with your physician. He/she is the best person to discuss the pros and cons in your husband’s particular case. As the treating surgeon, he/she is the one that knows the patient the best.

I hope this helps. All the best to your husband.

Luis A. Laurentin-Perez, MD PhD
Diabetes always presents a risk due to the likely incidence of infection, usually associated with poor circulation and bacterial overgrowth, but it can be monitored and carefully controlled.