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What is skin tissue?

Skin tissue is made of the following three layers:

  • Epidermis: A thin top layer, composed of dead skin cells
  • Dermis: A second layer which contains hair follicles and glands
  • Hypodermis: A third layer made of fatty tissue

A diagram showing the three layers of skin tissue. The three layers of skin tissue are the epidermis, dermis, and hypodermic.

Image credit: Original image created by tienp. Image has been modified from the original published on Pixabay.

Donated skin tissue is used to create skin grafts which include the epidermis and all or part of the dermis.

In 2015, AATB accredited banks distributed more than 324,000 skin grafts.

Skin grafts accounted for 9.85% of all tissue grafts distributed in 2015.

How are skin grafts used?

Skin grafts including the epidermis and dermal layers are frequently used to treat burn patients. These grafts serve as a wound covering to prevent loss of fluid and infection and are considered life saving tissue transplants. Applying skin grafts early during burn recovery has several patient benefits including:

  • Reduces length and cost of hospitalization
  • Lessens amount of patient pain
  • Speeds recovery and decreases the amount of complications
  • Reduces scar formation

In addition to its use in treating severe third and fourth degree burns, dermis can be used in reconstructive procedures including:

  • Abdominal wall reconstruction
  • Hernia repair
  • Reconstruction post-mastectomy
  • Sports medicine procedures