Negative-pressure dressings as a bolster for skin grafts

James H. Blackburn, Luciano Boemi, Wesley W. Hall, Keith Jeffords, Randy M. Hauck, Dennis R. Banducci, William P. Graham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

235 Scopus citations


Contoured wounds needing closure with skin grafts are often located in complex anatomic regions or are in unusual positions, which make conventional skin graft stabilization techniques cumbersome and ineffective. Often after 72 hours, a skin graft covered with a bolstered dressing has poor take secondary to shear stresses, as well as hematoma formation or serum collection, negating the effectiveness of the stabilizing dressing. The Food and Drug Administration has recently approved vacuum-assisted closure (V.A.C.), an innovative technique using negative pressure, for closure of chronic wounds. This reportedly leads to enhanced granulation tissue formation and consequently more rapid reepithelialization of wounds compared with conventional packing with saline-moistened gauze. Experimental studies have demonstrated increased oxygen tension, decreased bacterial counts, and increased granulation formation occurring under negative-pressure systems. Extending the use of this concept, we have coupled skin grafting with negative-pressure dressings for closure of large, complex open wounds. Our results indicate greater than 95% graft take in all patients in this study. This technique is extremely efficacious, with increased graft take due to total immobilization of the graft, thereby limiting shear forces, elimination of fluid collections, bridging of the graft, and decreased bacterial contamination. Moreover we have noted decreased edema in rotated muscle flaps, improved contour conformity, and shortened hospitalizations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)453-457
Number of pages5
JournalAnnals of plastic surgery
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1998

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Surgery


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