Complication Rates in Delayed Reconstruction of the Head and Neck After Mohs Micrographic Surgery

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Same-day Mohs reconstructive surgery is not always possible owing to patient factors, scheduling, and complexity of defect, but there is hesitancy in delaying closure of such defects.


To describe the frequency of and predictors of complications in patients undergoing delayed facial reconstruction after Mohs micrographic surgery (MMS).

Design, Setting, and Participants

This was a retrospective, multi-institutional cohort study from February 1, 1989, to December 31, 2012. Data were pooled from 2 institutions: University of Washington Medical Center and Virginia Mason Medical Center. All patients who underwent MMS for facial carcinomas with delayed (non–same-day) reconstruction were included. We excluded those with incomplete medical records and no follow-up. The analysis was performed from June 2014 to March 2016.

Main Outcomes and Measures

Our main outcome measure was postoperative complication, classified as immediate (≤24 hours after surgery) or delayed (>24 hours after surgery).


A total of 415 cases in 342 patients were identified. Reconstruction occurred from 1 to 11 days after excision, with 95.4% of repairs occurring within 2 days of MMS. The overall complication rate was 8.2%. The total delayed complication rate was 7.7% (32 of 415 cases). The overall infection rate was 2.4%. In terms of patient characteristics, reconstruction delayed more than 2 days, bone or cartilage exposure, and large defects were associated with complications. In terms of defect location and reconstruction type, complications were associated with composite defects (those that included >1 facial subunit) and use of interpolated flaps with cartilage grafting. We used these variables in a multivariable logistic regression model and found that composite location, use of interpolated flap with cartilage grafting, and reconstruction delayed more than 2 days were associated with postoperative complications. Among the variables in the model, composite location of defects, interpolated flap with cartilage grafting, and delayed reconstruction greater than 2 days were found to have a statistically significant association with a complication (OR, 3.48 [95% CI, 1.16-10.56]; OR, 4.93 [95% CI, 1.44-16.95]; OR, 4.26 [95% CI, 1.24-14.60], respectively).

Conclusions and Relevance

To our knowledge, this is the largest study to report complication rates in delayed reconstruction of MMS defects in the head and neck, noting a rate that is similar to what has been reported in the literature. We noted a statistically significant increased risk of complications when reconstruction is performed for composite defects, if an interpolated flap with cartilage is performed, and if reconstruction is performed after more than 2 days.

Level of Evidence


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