Free tissue transfer for head and neck reconstruction: a contemporary review

JAMA Facial Plast Surg. Sep-Oct 2014;16(5):367-73. doi: 10.1001/jamafacial.2014.323.


Microvascular free tissue transfer is used for complex composite tissue defects in previously treated fields, in particular after treatment of malignant disease. The increasing incidence of skin cancer in the general population has increased the number of patients with massive tumors that require the expertise of the free flap reconstructive surgeon. We herein examine a number of the recent advances in the field that use free tissue transfer for orbitomaxillary and scalp reconstruction, including maxillary reconstruction, virtual surgical planning in head and neck reconstruction, and scalp reconstruction. Advanced computer algorithms allow planning of these procedures at a savings of time and cost. Free tissue transfer is a reconstructive modality that is often at the top of the reconstructive ladder and, in some instances, is the reconstructive method of choice. The ability to harvest composite tissue that matches the tissue defect in composition, surface area, and volume makes free tissue transfer a versatile modality.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Free Tissue Flaps / transplantation*
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Humans
  • Maxillary Neoplasms / surgery
  • Preoperative Care
  • Reconstructive Surgical Procedures / methods*
  • Scalp / surgery
  • Skin Neoplasms / surgery