Free Flap Donor Site Refinement Using Tissue Expansion

Geoffrey G. Hallock MD, Lehigh Valley Health Network


Posttransfer tissue expansion has been used to negate concern for the aesthetic donor site deformity following 15 free tissue transfers involving donor sites of the scalp, trunk, and extremities. There appears to be no contraindication to placing these implants immediately, as was done in 87% of cases, although it is recommended that expansion be delayed until adequate wound healing has occurred at any skin graft interface. This technique has had major positive benefits for refining the radial forearm flap and hair-bearing temporoparietal fasciocutaneous flap defects, which may have heretofore been avoided secondary to aesthetic concerns. Tissue expansion techniques should be considered as an important adjunct for any microsurgical reconstructive effort.