Basic plastic surgery techniques and principles: Flap surgery
In the fifth part of our series, Ben Taylor and Ardeshir Bayat explain the finer points of reconstructive flap surgery so there is no need for you to get yourself into a flap about it
Last month, we considered the lower rungs of the reconstructive ladder.1 At times, however, the simple steps are not sufficient, and the art of plastic surgery comes to the fore. The plastic surgeon can move pieces of tissue, known as flaps, around the body to create a desired end result. Here we provide a brief overview of the science behind flap surgery.
A flap, like a skin graft, is an autotransplantation of tissue. The main difference between the two, however, is that a flap takes its original blood supply with it, whereas a graft is completely stripped of its blood supply during transfer. Because of this, flaps can be made thicker, and can do a lot more than skin grafts. Flaps are used when a skin graft is unsuitable or would leave the defect with inadequate bulk. Flaps are more resistant to infection than grafts,2 and they allow you to