Bilateral Submental Flap: An Innovative Modification
Early management of premalignant lesions like oral submucous fibrosis cannot be underestimated in context of prevention and control of oral malignancies. Soft tissue reconstruction of the oral cavity and face is a complex undertaking. Several flaps local and distant as well as microvascular are available, each with their pros and cons. Microvascular free flaps lay a considerable burden on resources, expertise, increased operating time, and logistics. Simple and technically reproducible alternatives are needed to tackle these issues, more so in developing countries like ours. Submental flap is based on a large branch of the facial artery and was initially described in 1993 by Martin et al as an excellent option in head and neck reconstruction. We describe innovative modification of the submental flap based on concept of bilateral presence of facial and submental vasculature and thus can be used for bilateral cheek reconstruction. We use pedicled bilateral submental flap (BSF) by dividing the oval skin paddle obliquely, maintaining needed length. The best use of the BSF is in reconstruction of cheek defect, after surgical release of grade IV oral submucous fibrosis, a debilitating affliction commonly affecting young productive adults and seen in Indian subcontinent. The technique was used successfully in 20cases with minor complications.