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Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery:
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A New Technique of Scarless Expanded Forehead Flap for Reconstructive Surgery

Fan, Jincai M.D., Ph.D.

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Abstract

The forehead flap is an ideal flap for reconstructive surgery, especially for that involving reconstruction of the face and neck. However, it is usually limited to use in nasal reconstruction, even when performed in conjunction with tissue expansion, because of the severe visible morbidity of the donor site. In this article, the author discusses his development of a new technique of forehead flap, performed in conjunction with tissue expansion, for reconstructive surgery without visible scarring at the donor site. The technique involved positioning a tissue expander in the forehead pocket under the occipitofrontal muscle and serially inflating the expander over a period of approximately 4 to 6 weeks. Thereafter, an expanded forehead flap was created from the frontal hairline area on the basis of the location of the superficial temporal vessels and transferred into 16 recipient sites in 13 patients as an island flap (n = 8), a free flap (n = 1), or a local random flap (n = 7). The donor site was closed directly into the frontal hairline, without any visible scar. With the author’s experience in the use of the island flap for nasal, facial, and neck reconstruction and of the free flap for reconstruction in the extremities, the flap could be as large as 8 × 18 cm without inducing flap necrosis or problems with donor-site closure. All patients (n = 13) had acceptable donor-site aesthetic results, without visible scarring. The results indicate that the flap could be a safe, ample, and color-matched flap for reconstruction of the face and neck and could also diminish donor-site morbidity to a minimum, without an unsightly visible scar. Furthermore, the flap could be formed into a customized free flap, with the above-mentioned advantages, to be transferred to any part of the body.

©2000American Society of Plastic Surgeons

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