Skin graft or skin flap. Skin grafts or skin flaps are done after the scar tissue is removed. Skin grafts involve replacing or attaching skin to a part of the body that is missing skin. Skin grafts are performed by taking a piece of healthy skin from another area of the body (called the donor site) and attaching it to the needed area. Skin flaps are similar to skin grafts, where a part of the skin is taken from another area, but with the skin flaps, the skin that is retrieved has its own blood supply. The section of skin used includes the underlying blood vessels, fat, and muscles. Flaps may be used when the area that is missing the skin does not have a good supply of blood because of the location or because of damage to the vessels.
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One hundred fifty-nine operative procedures for postburn contractures of interdigital webs (96), the axilla (46), or the neck (17) were prospectively randomized to be treated postoperatively for four months with a topical steroid (Aristocort A), topical vitamin e, or the base cream carrier for these drugs. The nature of the medication was blinded both to the patient and to the evaluator. Patients were followed for one year. Observations were made for range of motion, scar thickness, change in graft size, and ultimate cosmetic appearance. No beneficial effect of either vitamin E or topical steroid could be demonstrated. However, adverse reactions occurred on % of patients receiving active drug, compared to % treated with only base cream. Interestingly, the grafts initially contracted and subsequently grew to be a larger size (about 20%) than the original graft by one year. It is concluded that neither topical steroid nor topical vitamin E is effective in reducing scar formation for postburn contractures.