Diabetes affects your life in a number of ways, and your feet are no exception. The way diabetes impacts your circulation can cause a two-pronged problem: you might not notice injuries on your feet and they’ll be slower to heal.

Medical experts call these foot wounds diabetic ulcers. Because they’re slow-healing, they can be particularly problematic, even leading to amputations.

Fortunately, we can help. Samantha Childers, DPM; Ricky Childers, DPM; and our team at North Central Texas Foot & Ankle have wound care certification through the American Board of Wound Management (ABWM). While we offer a variety of treatments for foot and ankle wounds, some need a skin graft.

Visit us at either our offices — in Roanoke and Decatur, Texas — to find out what your foot needs. If you do require a skin graft, we can give you an idea of what to expect as you move forward.

The skin graft recovery process

A skin graft means we take a portion of healthy skin from elsewhere on your body, then place it over the slow-healing diabetic ulcer. This helps the area heal, and multiple studies have found skin grafting to be highly effective in treating foot ulcers.

Part of the healing process hinges on the type of skin graft. Most frequently, we use a split-thickness skin graft, which means we take the top layers of skin from an area like your thigh, stomach, or buttock. The area we take that graft from should heal in a couple of weeks.

The foot needs more time to heal and assimilate the skin graft once it’s placed.  Within a week, the new skin should be adhered to your foot. It can take up to a year, though, for those skin cells to fully integrate with the skin in your foot.

Our team monitors your foot wound and advises you on when you can take on new activities. Usually, we recommend keeping the foot elevated and staying off it for at least two weeks. We generally don’t want anything to rub the graft for about a month, so we may recommend crutches or another mobility modification.

Gradually, as the skin graft heals, we work with you to introduce new activities.

Caring for your skin graft

After your skin graft, you go home with detailed instructions about caring for both the area we took the skin from and the foot on which we placed it. It’s critical that you follow these instructions to the letter. Remember, diabetes already slows down your body’s healing processes. Sticking with our plan for your foot helps it move forward in the healing journey as quickly as possible.

In the beginning, that means keeping the graft bandaged and changing the bandages on the recommended schedule.

As the foot heals and you no longer require bandages, the work doesn’t stop. It’s important to keep the foot clean, dry, and moisturized. The skin graft might not have oil glands, so moisturizing it helps to prevent dry, flaky skin that’s prone to another injury.

Ultimately, a skin graft comes with a fairly involved recovery process. Because it can save your foot from a serious issue — and potentially amputation — it’s well worth it. If you have a foot wound that isn’t healing, the sooner you treat it, the less likely it is to cause you a major problem. Don’t wait to call North Central Texas Foot & Ankle or request an appointment online.

Apr 2nd, 2024

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