The Role of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy in Improving Skin Graft Recovery

More than 6 million people in the country experience chronic wounds due to burns, skin infections, skin cancer, and ulcers that won’t heal. That doesn’t include the number of people who injure their skin from accidents.

Skin grafting is an advanced wound-healing technique that helps protect and heal the affected area, but it’s not always enough. To avoid compromised skin grafts, many medical professionals use advanced wound care and hyperbaric medicine to give their patients’ bodies the best chance of recovery. 

Improve Skin Graft Healing With Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy

A skin graft is a medical procedure during which a surgeon or dermatologist removes the top two layers of healthy skin (epidermis and dermis) from a patient’s body and attaches it to a wound. In most cases, healthy skin comes from a body part that is usually clothed, like the inner thigh. 

A skin flap is similar to a graft because it uses healthy skin to cover an affected area. However, the skin flap comes from a neighboring piece of skin that surgeons don’t detach from the body, leaving its original blood supply intact.

Despite the benefits of skin grafts and flaps, they can fail and die. Besides infections and fluid buildups, a patient could move and accidentally break the connection of blood vessels between the grafted skin and the wound, which are crucial for a skin graft to work. Signs of a failing graft include:

  • Darkening skin
  • Skin graft doesn’t return to a pinkish hue when you apply pressure to it
  • Infection 
  • Fluid discharge around the graft or donor site
  • Swelling

Medical professionals must act quickly to prevent the graft or flap from dying when these signs occur. Advanced wound care and hyperbaric medicine provide some of the best results. Studies show that proper wound care with hyperbaric oxygen therapy boosts the survival of a skin graft by nearly 30%, and hyperbaric patients achieve over 60% graft take. 

How HBOT Enhances Skin Graft Recovery

The high success rate of HBOT is due primarily to how the therapy works. Patients with chronic wounds rest inside pressurized hyperbaric chambers that deliver a steady oxygen flow. Unlike the air you normally breathe with an oxygen concentration of 21%, hyperbaric chambers have 100% pure oxygen. The boost in oxygen is integral for naturally promoting the body’s ability to heal in several ways. 

Increased Oxygen Supply 

The most important benefit of advanced wound care and hyperbaric medicine is the influx of oxygen to the body. When tissues don’t receive enough oxygen because the body’s red blood cells lack the necessary oxygen level, cells start to fail and die. The effects of deficient blood oxygenation include the inability of cells to produce sufficient energy to protect the body from bacteria and regenerate new cells. 

Breathing inside a hyperbaric chamber gives the body a large dose of oxygen. It’s enough to give red blood cells the oxygen they need to jumpstart the body’s natural healing functions. 

Reduction of Inflammation 

Hyperbaric oxygen treatment also reduces inflammation. Inflammation is the immune system’s response to injuries, but it causes pain and discomfort around wounds.

When the body has low oxygen levels, its cells become vulnerable to inflammation. By increasing the oxygen level over time through several sessions of HBOT, the body won’t produce as many proteins responsible for inflammation.

Promotion of Angiogenesis

HBOT also promotes angiogenesis or the growth of new blood vessels. Blood vessels are essential for building the bridge between the skin graft and the wound site, which also helps form new skin cells. 

Decreased Risk of Infection

One of the unfortunate risks of skin grafting is the development of an infection at the graft or skin donor sites. When fluids that don’t contain sufficient blood vessels flow around the graft site, hematomas of clotted blood or seromas can form. Staph infections can also develop. 

In either case, the skin graft risks failing and compromising the patient’s health. Fortunately, advanced wound care and hyperbaric medicine can dramatically reduce the risk of infection and complications due to a lack of blood vessels and oxygen. 

Since HBOT boosts the body’s oxygen concentration in tissues, the immune system can resist or fight infections better. HBOT therapy can also increase the body’s production of white blood cells, which are integral for protection against infection and disease.

Additional Read: How Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Works Wonders for Wound Healing

Experience the Benefits of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy With Us

Our specialties include advanced wound care and hyperbaric medicine at NexGen Hyperbaric, LLC. Based in Denver, CO, our wound care center uses state-of-the-art hyperbaric chambers to provide hyperbaric oxygen therapy services for patients with chronic skin afflictions. Our HBOT experts and staff maintain the highest patient support and operational safety standards to provide exceptional care and promote total wellness in our patients. 

If you’re ready to embrace advanced hyperbaric recovery with NexGen Hyperbaric, LLC, call us at (888) 567-4302 for a consultation.