Facial Defect Reconstruction Using the True Scarless Pre-Expanded Forehead Flap

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Abstract

Objective:

This clinical study describes a reconstructive method for facial soft-tissue defects that uses the pre-expanded forehead flap and minimizes donor site morbidities.

Methods:

The surgery was subdivided into 3 stages. First stage, an appropriately sized expander was buried underneath the forehead. Second stage, after adequate inflation of the expander, a forehead flap based on the frontal branches of the superficial temporal artery was raised, and the distal portion of the flap was used to reconstruct the facial defect. The cutaneous pedicle of the flap was designed near the frontal hairline. Third stage, 3 weeks later, the flap pedicle was divided, and the forehead incisional scar was melted into the neoreconstructed hairline.

Results:

Between July 2010 and December 2016, 16 patients underwent facial defect reconstruction. Etiologies included postburn scar (31%), melanocytic nevus (56%), and hemangioma (13%). The mean size of the defects was 8.78 × 5.06 cm (range, 3 × 2.5 to 15 × 7 cm). The average dimension of the forehead flap was 21.63 × 7.38 cm (range, 12 × 4 to 28 × 10 cm). Fifteen flaps survived without any perfusion-related complications. Venous congestion occurred in 1 flap and gradually subsided without any flap loss. Patients were followed after surgery, ranging from 4 to 48 months. Patients and/or their family members were satisfied with the final aesthetic outcomes.

Conclusion:

Facial defect reconstruction using a pre-expanded forehead flap, with the donor-site incisional scar designed along the hairline, can not only provide sufficient tissue for defect reconstruction, but also maximally reduce donor-site morbidities.

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