Doctors often use skin substitutes to cover open wounds. Skin substitutes protect against fluid loss and infection, and help the wound heal. There are four different types of skin substitutes that can be used to replace lost skin: autografts, allografts, synthetic skin, and tissue-engineered skin.
An autograft uses epidermal skin from another part of the patient's body. An allograft uses skin from a cadaver (a dead body) or from a pig. An allograft is only temporary because the person's body will eventually recognize the skin as foreign and reject it. Synthetic skin is usually made of silicone (an artificial material made of the element silicon and oxygen), collagen (a type of protein that makes up connective tissue), and a support layer of fiber. It is also temporary, because it cannot grow into the person's skin. Tissue engineered skin is a newer technology. It is made from real human cells and is designed to permanently replace lost skin.
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