It has now been two years since I underwent skin graft surgery in Istanbul. A skin graft surgery was supposed to help improve the appearance of my scars. This was quite a big procedure where I had to stay abroad for two weeks before I was strong enough to fly home. My life changed with this surgery. It gave me a chance to be myself without being constantly reminded of the past. And it removed the awkward stares and inappropriate questions from strangers.
Doubts and Fears Before the Skin Graft Surgery
When I decided to have the thin skin graft surgery I didn’t know what to expect. How long will the post-operative period last? How will the healing go? What will the end results look like? Will I be in a lot of pain? I had a lot of questions and worries and little time to process it all. Both the logistical and the emotional challenges of what I was about to embark on were a lot to take in.
In my book, I write about every detail you have to take into account when undergoing skin graft surgery. This includes planning before, during, and after the procedure. I also give some practical tips about arranging your stay and transport between the hospital, surgeon’s clinic, and your hotel. My book Living with Scars was written with the intention of helping others in a similar situation who want to have skin graft surgery. I wanted to provide as much information as possible and explain the steps of the entire process.
The Outcome of My Skin Graft Surgery
Two years down the line I have so much gratitude for all the specialists that have been involved in my surgery. I’m grateful for my partner who has been there for me through it all. He encouraged me before departure and throughout the entire procedure and the post-operative period. I am happy that I embarked on this journey. It took a lot of courage, planning, perseverance, and last but not least, a financial commitment.
So what are the results of my thin skin graft surgery? The skin graft now camouflages my scars and these have become much less recognizable. The skin is not the same as the surrounding healthy skin, of course, but I would say the surgery has been a success overall. My arm looks like it had been operated on, but there is no way to know why and how. People are less likely to make judgments about what was beneath the skin graft.
You can see the before and after photos of my arm here.
Below is a photo that shows the outcome of the thin skin patch skin graft:
Skin Graft Donor Area
There is however another part of my body that now carries a new scar. This is the donor area, which is where a layer of skin was harvested from. The healing process depends on each individual and some people’s donor area is barely visible. However, in my case it is quite noticeable – it’s a much whiter color than the surrounding healthy skin. But because the donor area is located on my thigh it is very easy to cover it with clothing.
Below is a photo that shows the outcome of the donor area:
Preparation and Trust
Before, during, and after my skin graft surgery I had to work on my state of mind. Before embarking on a surgery that will have a significant change to your physical appearance you need to prepare yourself for the procedure, both physically and mentally. This includes a lot of positive thinking, building a strong determination, and an optimistic outlook. It is also important to follow all instructions prior to the procedure in order to get the best possible outcome. Make sure you are well informed and know what to expect.
During the healing period, you will need to rest almost all day and you might find this challenging. Having someone with you every day will help you stay strong and make the first two weeks of recovery much easier. They can help with cooking, cleaning, and personal hygiene.
Finding things to occupy your mind with, and staying optimistic throughout this period is vital for the healing process. Managing your expectations during this time will help you come to terms with the future outcome. The healing of the skin is completed after two years, therefore you will need a lot of patience to trust the process.
Acceptance and Moving On
Finally, moving on from your past, from your scars, is the final step of this journey. It’s something everyone wants and is in constant search of. How do you move past your scars? How do you move on from your past, from the things that don’t serve you anymore? I can confirm that skin graft surgery is what enabled me to do just that.
But your journey doesn’t end there. Accepting your body and skin is a lifelong practice and commitment, therefore this journey continues past the surgery. The surgery helps you move on from your scars, that is certainly true. But the inner work is for you to continue every day, for as long as you need in order to arrive at true peace and acceptance.
I write more about the psychological impact of scars and surgery in my book Living with Scars.
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Wishing you all the love and acceptance on your journey,
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