The skin is the largest organ in the human body, and it is also the most prone to injury. It is exposed to the elements and risks of injury on a continuous basis, and it is not uncommon to hear about people with serious skin injuries or conditions that require replacement of the skin. Often, surgeons take patches of skin from other parts of the body and graft these patches onto the affected areas. The problem with this method is that sometimes, there isn’t enough donor skin from the patient’s body. This is where artificial skin comes into the picture.
Artificial skin is skin that is grown in the laboratory. There are different kinds of artificial skin, and they provide the option of having more material to use for grafting as opposed to taking skin patches from other parts of the patient’s body. The problem with artificial skin is that the risk of the body rejecting the artificial skin is higher.
One kind of artificial skin is the type that is meant to be used temporarily. This kind of artificial skin is simply placed over the affected area to serve as protection. The artificial skin is left covering the area until the body has had enough time to heal itself and create a new protective layer of natural skin - the dermis. The dermis does not provide enough protection, though, so a grafting of the outermost layer will still be needed - the epidermis. This kind of artificial skin contains substances that stimulate the growth of the dermis.
Another kind of artificial skin is grown from the cells of the body of the patient. These cells are taken from the body and grown in the lab to create epidermal skin. This skin can then be used to replace damaged epidermal skin in various parts of the body, foregoing the need to harvest skin grafts.