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Use of the Serratus Anterior Fascia Flap for Expander Coverage in Breast Reconstruction

Saint-Cyr, Michel M.D.; Dauwe, Phillip B.Sc.; Wong, Corrine M.R.C.S.; Thakar, Hema M.D.; Nagarkar, Purushottam B.Sc.; Rohrich, Rod J. M.D.

Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery: April 2010 - Volume 125 - Issue 4 - p 1057-1064
doi: 10.1097/PRS.0b013e3181d17f61
Breast: Original Articles

Background: Postmastectomy partial submuscular tissue expander placement can prevent the upper pole fullness commonly seen with complete submuscular prosthesis placement. The resultant inferior and lateral margins require coverage to prevent prosthesis exposure. The fascial layer overlying the serratus anterior muscle can be used as an alternative to previously defined techniques to provide composite lateral coverage. This method offers adequate coverage, prevents expander lateralization, and minimizes use of allogenic material. This study reports the anatomy, surgical procedure, clinical outcomes, and aesthetics following use of the serratus anterior fascial flap for lateral expander coverage in postmastectomy expander-based breast reconstruction.

Methods: Twenty-two patients (31 breasts) who underwent breast reconstruction with serratus fascia were included in a retrospective case-note analysis after approval by the institutional review board. Demographics, perioperative factors, postoperative complications, patient satisfaction, and aesthetics were recorded as relevant endpoints. Ten fresh cadaver hemichests were dissected, and the serratus fascia for each was measured for length and width.

Results: At a mean follow-up of 197 days (range, 71 to 370 days), seroma occurred in two breasts, wound infection occurred in one breast, partial mastectomy skin flap necrosis occurred in four breasts, and minor wound dehiscence occurred in one breast. There were no incidences of capsular contracture or hematoma. Four patients (five breasts) reported very mild tightness or banding in the lateral chest wall. The mean length of cadaver serratus fascia was 164.3 mm and the mean width was 122.8 mm.

Conclusion: The serratus anterior fascia flap is a versatile and safe alternative for providing vascularized composite lateral prosthesis coverage in expander-based breast reconstruction.

Dallas, Texas

From the Department of Plastic Surgery, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.

Presented at the Annual Scientific Meeting of the American Society for Reconstructive Microsurgery, in Maui, Hawaii, January 10 through 13, 2009.

Received for publication May 22, 2009; accepted September 14, 2009.

Disclosure: The authors have no financial interests in this research project or in any of the techniques or equipment used in this study.

Michel Saint-Cyr, M.D., Department of Plastic Surgery, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, 1801 Inwood Road, Dallas, Texas 75290-9132,

©2010American Society of Plastic Surgeons