Composite Anterolateral Thigh–Fascia Lata Flap: A Good Alternative to Radial Forearm–Palmaris Longus Flap for Total Lower Lip Reconstruction

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Background:Major defects of the lower lip are challenging to the reconstructive surgeon. The major goals in treating total lower lip defects are reconstruction of the external skin and mucosal lining and maintenance of oral competence and sphincter function. The authors describe reconstruction of total lower lip and larger full-thickness defects including the cheek and commissure by means of a composite anterolateral thigh–fascia lata free flap.Methods:The flap was harvested with 5-cm fascial extensions at the superior and inferior margins. The flap was folded over the fascia lata to restore the intraoral lining and cover the external skin defect. Fascia lata extensions were divided longitudinally into two fascial strips at both margins of the flap. Two strips were tunneled through the orbicularis muscle in the upper lip and sutured to each other and to the orbicularis muscle. The remaining two strips were anchored to the zygomatic bone periosteum by permanent sutures. This procedure was used in 11 patients.Results:In all cases, disease was advanced squamosus cell carcinoma. The patients’ ages ranged from 37 to 72 years. Nine patients had cancer of the lower lip and two patients had a buccal cancer involving the lip. The entire lower lip, bilateral modiolus, and part of the cheek were resected in all patients, and mandibulectomy was performed in three patients. Flap survival was 100 percent. One patient died 10 days after the operation because of cardiopulmonary arrest. At the end of the 1-year follow-up period, all patients had good oral continence at rest and had achieved sufficient oral competence when eating. Eight patients were able to resume a regular diet and two patients could eat a soft diet.Conclusions:This flap is a good choice for reconstruction of the extensive head and neck defects. We think that anterolateral thigh–fascia lata composite flap has maximum reconstructive capacity and minimal donor-site morbidity. This flap has many advantages over the radial forearm flap and should replace to the composite radial forearm palmaris longus tendon flap when total lower lip reconstruction is concerned.

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