Reconstructive surgery is performed to improve functional impairments and aesthetics caused by surgical procedures.
Reconstructive surgery with local and free flap procedures
In general, primary reconstruction is an integral part of tumour surgery. Nevertheless, it is not always possible to remove tissue in the head/neck region without causing minor or major functional and aesthetic deficits. After all, the paramount objective of tumour surgery is to completely remove the malignant tissue.
Reconstructive procedures cannot undo tumour removal surgery and its consequences, but they can improve appearance and function. The replacement of tissue loss in the head/neck region is a major challenge because of the complex anatomical conditions and because the outcome of reconstructive surgery is immediately visible. So obviously these procedures require a high level of clinical and surgical experience and expertise from surgeons.
Each case needs to be assessed individually to determine the reconstructive procedure best suited to improve the patient’s situation.
In many cases, it is possible to use local tissue, i.e. from a donor site adjacent to the defect, to improve function and appearance. This technique is referred to as local flap technique. This procedure is usually less complex and can be performed on an outpatient or short-term inpatient basis. Moreover, adjacent tissue is similar in appearance to the original tissue so that good aesthetic results can be achieved in most cases. For us, this type of reconstructive surgery is the method of choice whenever it is possible and practicable.
When the defect extends over a larger area, it may be necessary to collect tissue from a distant body region and transfer it to the recipient site. These transplants are known as free flaps. Larger transplants require their own blood supply (inflow/outflow) to survive. The use of state-of-the-art technology enables us to reconnect blood vessels microsurgically to the transplanted tissue. This technique offers a number of benefits. Larger-size flaps can be raised to replace or add to damaged tissue. In most cases, this procedure requires inpatient treatment for about 10 to 14 days as close post-operative monitoring of the flap healing process is necessary.
Defects in the facial region present a major aesthetic challenge which should be assessed by experienced facial surgeons. It is crucial that an individual treatment plan is established in co-operation with the patient in order to offer the best solution for the patient’s specific needs.
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