LAYTON -- Skin grafting is a procedure that has been used for years to help heal wounds so damaged they are unable to regenerate on their own.
The procedure, which consists of transferring epidermal tissue from a healthy site of skin to the wound, is often painful and time-consuming, but doctors at Davis Hospital and Medical Center's Hyperbaric and Wound Center have a new treatment they say is minimally invasive and takes less time to heal.
Dr. Paul Barney, medical director of the Hyperbaric and Wound Center at Davis Hospital, said the CelluTome system is a new technology. Right now, Davis Hospital is the first in the western United States to provide the service.
The CelluTome system uses a template lined with small holes, Barney said. The tool warms up the skin and creates suction, adhering to a patient's inner thigh. The heat and suction causes small blisters to form at the junction of the epidermis and dermis, which is then lifted from the donor site without injuring blood vessels and nerves. The harvested skin tissue is placed on the wound, and as soon as the new skin roots to the damaged skin, the healing process begins.
In traditional skin grafting, the wound is treated in an operating room and healing on the harvest sites is often painful.
"This new technology allows the procedure to be done in the office, avoiding the cost and inconvenience of the operating room, including anesthesia," Barney said. "The harvest site heals in one week, sometimes two weeks, without any evidence that a procedure was done."
The transplant site closes 40 to 60 percent faster than untreated wounds, Barney said.
The treatment is used for any patient with a wound that needs to be covered with new skin. Many of those patients include burn victims, people with diabetes, pressure wounds or bed sores and certain cancer patients.
Jeff L., of Layton, said he was involved in an accident in January that caused him to lose some of his toes on his left foot. He has received two treatments at the wound center.
"The first time they took skin from the right leg and put it where my toes had been, and the second time, they took skin off the left side of my foot," he said. "It wasn't painful at all. The first time, it felt like a little pinch real briefly and the second time, I didn't feel anything."
Jeff also said the skin where the graft was taken completely healed within four days.
"You couldn't even tell where they had taken my skin," he said.
Jeff said he would like to see more local hospitals bring the procedure on board.
"I think it's an incredible way of doing grafts, and from what I understand, it's a lot less painful than the old procedure," he said. "I would recommend it to anyone and Dr. Barney is a top flight wound doctor. He knows what he's doing."
Barney said the results from the CelluTome system are remarkable.
"We're proud to be the first in Utah to offer such an innovative and beneficial treatment option for wound care," Barney said. "The technology is very advanced, yet the process is simplified for the specialists and the patients. Our patients' successful recoveries are an inspiration to us all."