Achieving aesthetic results in facial reconstructive microsurgery: Planning and executing secondary refinements

Nicholas T. Haddock, Pierre B. Saadeh, John W. Siebert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

13 Scopus citations


Background: Free tissue transfer to improve bulk and contour in facial deformities has been proven useful, yet refinements that turn an acceptable result into an excellent result are essential to reconstruction. The authors reviewed their experience and described these refinements. Methods: The charts of 371 free tissue transfer cases (1989 to 2010) performed by the senior author (J.W.S.) were reviewed. Free tissue transfer of a circumflex scapular variant flap or superficial inferior epigastric was performed to treat deformities arising from hemifacial atrophy (n = 126), hemifacial microsomia (n = 89), radiation therapy (n = 40), bilateral malformations including lupus and polymyositis (n = 50), other congenital anomalies (n = 25), facial palsy (n = 17), and burns and trauma (n = 24). Results: Revision surgery planning began at initial flap operation where the flap was stretched maximally and interdigitated with recipient tissue. More tissue was required in the malar region. Revision refinement was indicated in all cases (after 6 months). Flap revision involved liposuction, debulking, reelevation, and release of tethering, followed by tissue rearrangement by means of advancement, rotation, transposition, and/or turnover flaps of subcutaneous tissues from the previous free flap. The jawline frequently required more debulking. Periorbital reconstruction was combined with lower lid support with or without canthal repositioning. Conventional face-lift techniques with the flap as superficial musculoaponeurotic system augmented the result. Autologous fat injection to the alar rim, medial canthus, upper eyelid, and lip was a useful adjunct. Severe lip deficiencies were addressed with local flaps. Conclusion:: The keys to improving results were continual critical reassessment, open-mindedness to new approaches, and maintaining high expectations. Clinical Question/Level of Evidence: Therapeutic, V.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1236-1245
Number of pages10
JournalPlastic and reconstructive surgery
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery

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