Eyelid Reconstruction Using Oral Mucosa and Ear Cartilage Strips as Sandwich Grafting

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The eyelid structure can be divided into an inner layer and an outer layer. Reconstruction of a full-thickness eyelid defect is accomplished by full-thickness composite tissue transfer or combined layered reconstruction. We present a new technique for inner layer reconstruction using ear cartilage and oral mucosa.


The oral mucosa graft is harvested from the inner side of the lower lip to fit the defect size and shape. The ear cartilage graft is harvested as a rectangular strip. The harvested mucosa is sutured to the defect margin and the cartilage strip graft is interposed to the defect. Finally, the outer layer of the defect is covered with skin flaps. Consequently, the ear cartilage graft is sandwiched between the mucosa graft and the skin flap.


We used this technique for the reconstruction of 13 full-thickness eyelid defects of various locations, sizes, and shapes. Ten cases involved the lower eyelid, 2 cases involved the lower eyelid including the medial canthus, and 1 case involved the upper eyelid. The oral mucosa graft survived in all patients. The reconstructions were successful and there were no postoperative reports of conjunctival or corneal irritation.


The present technique using a combination of an ear cartilage strip graft and oral mucosa graft is an easy and versatile technique for reconstruction of inner layer eyelid defects. We believe that the beneficial effects of tears, which are richly oxygenated, improved survival of the grafted mucosa.

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