Oncologic reconstruction in obese patients can be challenging. Donor tissues, such as the rectus flap, can be excessively bulky and result in significant cosmetic and functional deformities. Although the use of the anterolateral thigh (ALT) flap as an alternative to the radial forearm flap has been extensively described, few studies have evaluated the use of the ALT flap as an alternative to the rectus flap. The purpose of this study was to evaluate our experience with the ALT flap in overweight or obese patients.
A retrospective review was conducted of all ALT flaps performed over a 2-year period at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. All patients with a body mass index (BMI) >25 kg/m2 were identified and evaluated.
Twenty-seven patients underwent ALT flap reconstruction during the study period. Of these, 11 patients were overweight (BMI, 25.1–30 kg/m2) or obese (BMI, >30 kg/m2). Reconstructions were performed for a variety of oncologic defects, including head and neck (n = 7), extremity (n = 2), chest wall (n = 1), and abdominal wall (n = 1). Complications were, in general, mild and infrequent. One patient experienced a minor infection, 1 patient had partial flap loss, and 2 patients had partial skin graft loss at the donor site. There were no flap losses.
The ALT flap is a safe and reliable flap for reconstruction of diverse defects in overweight or obese patients. Large flaps can be designed and tailored to the defect by harvesting variable amounts of skin, subcutaneous tissues, fascia, and muscle. The ALT flap may be a good alternative to the rectus flap in overweight or obese patients.