Reducing Side-effects of Autologous Skin Tissue Harvesting

Sponsored by Massachusetts General Hospital

Phase Quota
Phase 0

The investigators are doing this research study to learn about how the skin heals after many microscopic skin biopsies are collected. Skin-grafting is a life-saving procedure for people with large area skin wounds caused by burns or trauma. Conventional autologous (self) skin grafting techniques require the creation of large donor site wounds, causing numerous complications including pain, infection, blistering, discoloration, and scarring. Based on previous research, many of these adverse effects can be improved, or even eliminated, by harvesting skin tissue in very small biopsies. These "micro-biopsies" are less than the size of a sewing pin. Then, they are put back together into a skin graft. This concept is based on clinical observations from fractional photothermolysis laser therapy, an FDA approved laser that has been previously developed by the investigators research group for the treatment of scars and ageing skin. With this laser technique, thousands to millions of small burns are produced by laser on a patient's skin, and the skin responds by healing the damaged areas to create new healthy skin within days and without scarring. Although the results of laser treatment are well-known, it is not known what happens when we harvest the skin using needles instead of using the laser to cut the skin. The investigators also would like to understand how the body heals the skin. Understanding how this works helps in understanding wound healing, and may lead to future treatments for healing large wounds, disfiguring burn scars, and preventing scar formation. A tummy tuck (abdominoplasty surgery) is done to remove excessive skin of the belly. This is an elective surgery, in other words, it is optional and usually done for cosmetics reasons (to improve the appearance). The skin of the belly that is removed during an abdominoplasty surgery (tummy tuck) is discarded. The skin of the area removed is called "pre-abdominoplasty skin". The investigators would like to study the effects of the micro-biopsies on pre-abdominoplasty skin to exam how the skin heals over time and to study the skin that will be removed during the abdominoplasty surgery. This is a pilot study. Pilot studies are done on a small group of subjects to learn if a larger study would be useful. The investigators are asking subjects to take part in this study who are healthy with an abdominoplasty surgery (tummy tuck) scheduled at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) by a plastic surgeon . The investigators will enroll about 28 subjects in this research study, all at MGH. The Department of Defense is paying for this study to be done.

Study Start Date: September 2014

Estimated Completion Date: December 2015

Specialties: Surgery: Plastic/Reconstructive


  • Procedure: Lidocaine with epinephrine
  • Device: Micro biopsy

Inclusion criteria

  • Healthy adults (>18 years old) scheduled to undergo elective abdominoplasty surgery at MGH, male or female
  • Willingness to participate in the study
  • Willingness to undergo biopsies of full-thickness skin tissue from the pre-abdominoplasty skin, and have the biopsy sites marked by tattoos
  • Informed consent agreement signed by the subject
  • Willingness to follow the treatment and follow-up schedules, and post treatment care requirements
  • Willingness to not use topical or systemic (oral) anti-scarring or anti-inflammatory* medications during the study period

Exclusion criteria

  • Subjects who are immunocompromised or immunosuppressed
  • Subject is unable to comply with treatment, home care or follow-up visits
  • Subject has an infection or other dermatologic condition in the area to be treated
  • Subjects with a personal or family history of keloid formation
  • Subjects with pre-existing scars, tattoos, birthmarks, or other physical features in the area to be treated, such that the experimental outcome may be confounded
  • Subjects with a history of coagulopathy, or are taking anticoagulants
  • Subjects taking daily oral aspirin
  • Subject is currently enrolled in a clinical study of any other unapproved investigational drug or device
  • Subjects with any contraindications for elective abdominoplasty, as determined by their treating plastic surgeon and/or pre-op anesthesiologist
  • Subjects with current drug or alcohol addiction
  • Subjects who are pregnant and/or breastfeeding
  • Subjects with tape adhesive allergies
  • Subjects with known allergies to injectable lidocaine or other topical anesthetics
  • Subjects with uncontrolled or unstable chronic disease such as diabetes, hepatitis, hypertension, etc
  • Subjects taking oral corticosteroids or topical steroids on the study area
  • Subjects using prescription or over-the-counter medication or cosmetics containing: retinoids, glycolic acid, salicylic acid or any other remedies that might affect the healing process. (Non-medicated moisturizers are ok)
  • Subjects enrolled in other clinical studies taking any unknown or not-FDA approved medications
  • Any other condition or laboratory value that would, in the professional opinion of the investigator, potentially affect the subject's response or the integrity of the data or would pose an unacceptable risk to the subject
  • Notes:
  • About Anti-Inflammatory Medication and Immune Status The inflammatory response associated with tissue wounding is known to have substantial effects on the process of scarring, therefore all subjects who are immunocompromised, or undergoing anti-inflammatory/immunosuppressive therapies will be excluded from the study. All new medication should be reported to study doctor before each visit

Study Locations And Contact Information

  • Wellman Center for Photomedicine Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston Massachusetts
    Contact: Fernanda H Sakamoto MD PhD 617-724-5329

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