Reconstruction of Extensive Composite Mandibular Defects with Large Lip Involvement by Using Double Free Flaps and Fascia Lata Grafts for Oral Sphincters

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Extensive composite mandibular defects involving large lip defects are the most difficult to repair among head and neck reconstructions. This study presents the authors’ approach using double free flaps and fascia lata grafts for oral sphincters.


Ten patients were studied after ablative oral cancer surgery. Segmental defects of the mandible ranged from 6 to 14 cm. Cheek defects ranged from 9 × 6 cm to 15 × 12 cm, and intraoral defects ranged from 9 × 7 cm to 16 × 16 cm. Upper lip defects ranged from 10 percent to 50 percent, and lower lip defects ranged from 50 percent to 90 percent. A fibula osteocutaneous flap was used for reconstruction of mandibular defects and intraoral lining, and an anterolateral thigh flap was used for cheek and lip defects. Then, a sheet of fascia lata graft was used to reconstruct the oral sphincter. The tendon graft was passed into the subcutaneous layers of the reconstructed lip, woven into the remaining orbicularis oris muscle of the lip, and anchored to the upper lip near the philtral columns to complete the oral ring with adequate tension.


Free flap survival was 100 percent. Complications included one patient with neck hematoma and distal anterolateral thigh flap necrosis, three patients with neck wound infection, and one patient with osteomyelitis of the mandible. All but one patient had adequate oral competence. All the patients were able to resume a soft diet. The speech ability was nearly normal for all the patients, and all the patients had gained an acceptable appearance.


For extensive composite mandibular defects combined with large lip defects, immediate reconstruction with double free flaps and a fascia lata graft for oral sphincter has proved to be a useful option for better functional and cosmetic results.

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