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Scarpa Fascia Preservation in Abdominoplasty: Does It Preserve the Lymphatics?

Tourani, Saam S. M.D.; Taylor, G. Ian M.D.; Ashton, Mark W. M.D.

Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery: August 2015 - Volume 136 - Issue 2 - p 258–262
doi: 10.1097/PRS.0000000000001407
Cosmetic: Original Articles

Background: The course of the cutaneous lymphatic collectors of the abdominal wall in relation to the Scarpa fascia is unclear in the literature. Preserving the Scarpa fascia in the lower abdomen to reduce the seroma rate following abdominoplasty has been suggested based on the assumption that the lower abdominal lymphatics run deep to this layer along their entire course.

Methods: Using the previously described technique, the superficial lymphatic drainage of eight hemiabdomen specimens from four fresh human cadavers was investigated.

Results: The upper and lower abdominal collectors originated at the umbilical and midline watershed areas in a subdermal plane by the union of precollectors draining the dermis. In the lower abdomen, the depth of the collectors gradually increased in the subcutaneous fat as they coursed toward the groin. They eventually pierced the Scarpa fascia before draining into the superficial inguinal nodes located deep to this layer. The transition from the supra– to the infra–Scarpa fascia plane occurred within 2 to 3 cm of the inguinal ligament in 95 percent of the collectors.

Conclusion: In the four cadavers studied, preserving the Scarpa fascia during abdominoplasty would not preserve the lower abdominal collectors.

Parkville, Victoria, Australia

From the Department of Anatomy and Neuroscience, University of Melbourne.

Received for publication November 20, 2014; accepted February 25, 2015.

Disclosure: The authors have no financial interest to declare in relation to the content of this article.

Saam S. Tourani, M.D., University of Melbourne, Anatomy and Neuroscience, Room E533, Medical Building, Grattan Street, Parkville, Victoria 3010, Australia

©2015American Society of Plastic Surgeons