Background: The lips provide key functional and aesthetic features of the face. From social interactions and speech to swallowing and oral competence, a functional dynamic structure is required. This interaction with surrounding landmarks presents a challenge for reconstruction. There are a myriad of ways reported to reconstruct these defects; however, as the authors' practice has evolved, a more refined approach was developed to optimize results and minimize the complexity of each patient's surgery. Methods: A retrospective review from 2004 to 2018 was performed of consecutive patients who underwent lip reconstruction following Mohs cancer resection performed by a single surgeon. Each case was evaluated for key patient characteristics, defect location, defect size, defect composition, reconstructive modality, and complications. In addition, the evolution of treatment types over those 14 years was evaluated. Results: Six hundred fifteen patients underwent lip reconstruction. Defects most commonly involved the upper lateral lip, and 247 (40 percent) involved both the skin and vermillion. A significant majority of the patient's defects were repaired using either linear closure or V-wedge excision and closure. A complication rate of 10.2 percent (n = 63) was found, ranging from oral incompetence to cancer recurrence. There was no significant difference in complication rates in patients older than 75 years, in smokers, or in patients who were on anticoagulation. Conclusions: The authors' techniques have evolved from more invasive advancement and rotation flaps to a more reliable linear closure method over the past 14 years. This study shows that lip reconstruction is safe in elderly patients, smokers, and patients who are on anticoagulation.
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