Composite grafts are suitable for facial reconstruction because of good color matching, low donor-site morbidity, acceptable texture, and easy surgical techniques. However, their use is limited to small defects and by unpredictable survival rates. As platelet-rich plasma contains large numbers of growth factors and has been widely used for tissue regeneration, this study aimed to investigate platelet-rich plasma as an adjuvant to enhance composite graft survival.
Twenty New Zealand White rabbits were used, and chondrocutaneous composite grafts were applied to their ears. The grafts were then returned to their original positions after rotation to block the original circulation from the base of the graft. Each of the individual ears was assigned randomly into one of two groups: experimental (n = 20; platelet-rich plasma group) or control (n = 20; control group). The surrounding skin of the composite graft was injected with either 1.0 ml of platelet-rich plasma derived from autologous whole blood in the platelet-rich plasma group or normal saline in the control group. Graft survival, cutaneous blood flow, CD31-stained vessels, and vascular endothelial growth factor protein levels were examined.
Twelve days after surgery, graft viability in the platelet-rich plasma group was higher than in the control group. Blood perfusion was also higher in the platelet-rich plasma group. Compared with the control group, the number of CD31+ blood vessels and vascular endothelial growth factor expression levels were significantly increased in the platelet-rich plasma group.
The authors’ results suggest that platelet-rich plasma restores the perfusion of composite grafts by enhancing revascularization and may exert therapeutic effects on the survival of composite grafts.