Facial Defect Reconstruction with Scalp Skin Grafts

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The objective of this study is to demonstrate the benefits of scalp-based split-thickness skin grafts as a reconstructive modality for facial skin defects, noting advantages relative to traditional harvest sites. The study is presented as a case series with chart review set in a tertiary referral center. We reviewed the charts of patients with facial skin defects whose reconstruction required more skin than could be harvested with standard full-thickness skin grafting techniques and, accordingly, included a split-thickness skin graft from the adjacent scalp. Preoperative and postoperative photographs, along with operative and postoperative records, were used to evaluate final cosmetic results and complications. We reviewed 15 patients, with ages ranging from 6 to 90 years. Common indications were skin cancer resection, avulsive skin trauma, and ear reconstruction. While patients generally had good cosmetic outcomes, with excellent color matching relative to traditional distant donor sites, a major advantage of the scalp donor site was low donor-site morbidity. Scalp donor sites were commonly reepithelialized at 7 to 10 days postoperatively and had low reported pain scores. There were no major complications. Reconstruction of facial skin defects that require skin coverage with split-thickness skin grafts can optimally be harvested from adjacent scalp skin, providing adequate cosmesis but, perhaps most importantly, much lower donor-site morbidity than with traditional nonhair-bearing donor sites.

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