A suction catheter provides the key to the open technique of skin grafting in fresh wounds. The open technique has the advantage that the graft is continually in view, and hematomas or seromas can be dealt with as soon as they occur, preventing graft necrosis. The strip of grafted skin that covers the suction catheter itself will survive if the catheter is removed within the first two or three days. Sometimes a stripe is visible along the line of this tract for a period of time, but rarely is it permanent.
Suction tubes are widely used under flaps.1 The simple concept of using suction tubes under free grafts has doubtlessly originated de novo with many surgeons. Nonetheless, the technique is not widely exploited, and we describe here the method that we have found useful during the past ten years (Fig 1 and 2).
We place a medium or small