Flap prefabrication in the head and neck: a 10-year experience

Plast Reconstr Surg. 1999 Mar;103(3):808-20. doi: 10.1097/00006534-199903000-00006.


Tissue neovascularized by implanting a vascular pedicle can be transferred as a "prefabricated flap" based on the blood flow through the implanted pedicle. This technique potentially allows any defined tissue volume to be transferred to any specified recipient site, greatly expanding the armamentarium of reconstructive options. During the past 10 years, 17 flaps were prefabricated and 15 flaps were transferred successfully in 12 patients. Tissue expanders were used as an aid in 11 flaps. Seven flaps were prefabricated at a distant site and later transferred using microsurgical techniques. Ten flaps were prefabricated near the recipient site by either transposition of a local vascular pedicle or the microvascular transfer of a distant vascular pedicle. The prefabricated flaps were subsequently transferred as island pedicle flaps. These local vascular pedicles can be re-used to transfer additional neovascularized tissues. Common pedicles used for neovascularization included the descending branch of the lateral femoral circumflex, superficial temporal, radial, and thoracodorsal pedicles. Most flaps developed transient venous congestion that resolved in 36 to 48 hours. Venous congestion could be reduced by incorporating a native superficial vein into the design of the flap or by extending the prefabrication time from 6 weeks to several months. Placing a Gore-Tex sleeve around the proximal pedicle allowed for much easier pedicle dissection at the time of transfer. Prefabricated flaps allow the transfer of moderate-sized units of thin tissue to recipient sites throughout the body. They have been particularly useful in patients recovering from extensive burn injury on whom thin donor sites are limited.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Burns / complications
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cicatrix, Hypertrophic / etiology
  • Cicatrix, Hypertrophic / surgery
  • Contracture / etiology
  • Contracture / surgery
  • Face / surgery*
  • Facial Injuries / complications
  • Facial Injuries / surgery
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neck / surgery*
  • Neck Injuries / complications
  • Neck Injuries / surgery
  • Plastic Surgery Procedures / methods*
  • Surgical Flaps* / blood supply
  • Tissue Expansion