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Authors Garg RK, Poore SO, Wieland AM, Mcculloch TM, Hartig GK
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Journal Microsurgery Volume: 35 Issue: 8 Pages: 591-5
Publish Date 2015 Nov
PubMed ID 26419863

Elective free flap revision among head and neck cancer patients remains poorly characterized. This study evaluates patients who underwent flap revision and their surgical outcomes. Patients who underwent tumor extirpation with free flap reconstruction were identified over a 5-year period. Elective flap revision was defined as debulking or redraping of the original free flap for functional or cosmetic reasons. Patient demographics, surgical indications, and outcomes were reviewed. One hundred and eighty-six patients were identified, and 19 (10.2%) underwent flap revision. Revision of oral cavity flaps (n = 9, 47.4%) was performed to address excessive flap bulk compromising lip competence, speech, swallowing, mastication, or placement of a dental prosthesis. Revision of flaps resurfacing the face or neck (n = 10, 52.6%) was performed to address facial ptosis after facial nerve sacrifice, facial asymmetry, or soft tissue redundancy. Revisions were performed at an average of 7.3 months postoperatively and there was no age or gender bias toward undergoing flap revision. Patients whose flap skin paddles were used to resurface the facial or neck skin were significantly more likely to undergo elective revision than patients with an external paddle designed for flap monitoring (p < 0.01). We identified a 10% elective revision rate for head and neck free flaps in cancer patients, approximately half of which were performed to improve oral cavity function and half of which were performed to address facial ptosis or asymmetry. While there was no age or gender preference for flap revision, extensive facial or neck resurfacing was significantly associated with eventual flap revision. Copyright © 2016 The Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System