Repair of Craniomaxillofacial Traumatic Soft Tissue Defects With Tissue Expansion in the Early Stage

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Craniomaxillofacial traumatic soft tissue defects severely affect the function and appearance of the patients. The traditional skin grafting or free flap transplantation can only close the defects in the early stage of operation but cannot ensure similar color, texture, and relative aesthetic contour. In the present study, the authors have explored a novel strategy to repair craniomaxillofacial traumatic soft tissue defects by tissue expansion in the early stage and have obtained satisfactory results.


Eighteen patients suffering large craniomaxillofacial traumatic soft tissue defects were treated by thorough debridement leaving the wounds unclosed or simply closed with thin split-thickness scalp grafts, adjacent expander implantation in the first stage, and expanded flap transposition in the second stage.


There were 11 male patients and 7 female patients ranging in age from 3.5 to 40 years (mean, 19.4 ± 12.2 years), with average 15 months follow-up (range, 3–67 months). The average expansion time was 74.3 days (range, 53–96 days). The 18 patients with a total of 22 expanders were treated with satisfactory results. All the flaps survived and the skin color, texture, and contour well matched those of the peripheral tissue. Only 1 complication of infection happened in the 18 cases (5.56%) and the 22 expanders (4.55%), which was similar to the rate reported in the literature. No other complications related to the expanders occurred.


Debridement and tissue expansion in the early stage has been proved to be a more effective strategy to repair craniomaxillofacial traumatic soft tissue defects. This strategy can not only achieve satisfactory color, unbulky and well-matched texture similar to normal, but also avoid unnecessary donor site injuries.

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