Health Check: Skin exhibition
- 25 June 2010
- From the section Health
It's a vital, protective layer, crucial for our sense of touch, helping to keep our bodies free from infections.
The largest and most overlooked organ in the body - the skin - is the focus of a new exhibition at the Wellcome Collection in London.
Retired plastic surgeon Brian Morgan explains how the skin would be discarded by pioneering anatomists - to reveal the workings of the organs beneath. Repairing the skin - after a trauma like burns - can be difficult.
Skin grafts can be created, using healthy skin from another part of the body.
Surgical repairs to some parts of the body are difficult - because there isn't much "spare" skin. Here, a technique called a z-plasty is used by surgeons. Lines are drawn onto the skin in the shape of a backwards "z".
The two triangles created alongside the central incision are "swapped over" during the operation, creating a more elastic repair.
The z-plasty was the subject of a book by the Russian plastic surgeon AA Limberg - inspiration for artist Rhian Solomon.
Solomon has recreated some of the models which Limberg created to improve the training of plastic surgeons. She has been amazed at the parallel between how textiles and the skin behave.