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HealthInfo Canterbury

Going home after a skin graft


See your GP or an after-hours GP, or phone the Christchurch Hospital Plastic Surgery Outpatient Department on (03) 364‑0471 as soon as possible if you have:

For donor sites, If there is fluid under the Mefix (white tape) dressing, leakage or a bad smell from the wound, ask your district nurse or GP to look at it as soon as possible.

If your surgery was not done by the Plastic Surgery Department, please ask your doctor about how you should care for your graft after your operation.

How should I care for the skin graft dressing?

A firm dressing will cover your graft site. It may have a tie-over dressing, which is stitched on to keep it very secure. The dressing needs to stay in place. After around five days you will have an appointment at the Plastic Surgery Outpatient Department, when a nurse will check how well the graft is healing. The nurse will take the dressing off, inspect the graft, remove the stitches or staples and trim any overlapping graft. They will also remove stitches from the donor site if needed.

Changing the dressing can be uncomfortable but is not usually painful. You may want to take paracetamol or other mild pain relief about an hour before your appointment. You will be told how to continue caring for your skin graft dressing. Further follow-up may be arranged with your district nurse or GP, or the Plastic Surgery Outpatient Department.

How should I care for the donor site dressing (where the graft comes from)?

This advice is for wounds with Mefix dressings (white tape). If you have a different type of dressing, called an Algisite dressing, a nurse will give you advice about caring for that.

The donor site will probably be more painful than the skin graft site. You can take mild pain relief, such as regular paracetamol, to ease the pain. Talk with your doctor about what pain relief is best for you.

Showering or bathing

Wear a large plastic bag secured with tape and a crepe bandage over your graft site to keep the dressings dry.

If you need a shower stool, bath board or a non-slip mat, you can borrow them from the ward occupational therapist.

Once you take the gauze pad off the donor site, leaving just the white tape dressing (Mefix), you can shower or bathe. It is OK for the tape to get wet – just pat it dry with a clean towel.


It is important to make sure your body gets enough calories, protein, vitamins and minerals to heal properly. Read about good food for wound healing. If you are concerned about your food or fluid intake when you go home, ask your nurse if you can see a dietitian.

On the next page: Caring for your graft when you are up and about

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Endorsed by clinical director, Plastic Surgery Department, Canterbury DHB. Last reviewed May 2017.


Image courtesy of John Kasawa at

Page reference: 88168

Review key: HISGR-87518