Resurgence of regional flaps for head and neck reconstruction

Mingyang L. Gray, Virginia E. Drake, Shaun C. Desai

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


PURPOSE OF REVIEW: The strain on healthcare resources in light of the COVID-19 pandemic has forced many head and neck surgeons to explore reconstructive options that may decrease length of stay. Here, we review three common and versatile regional flaps used in head and neck reconstruction that are comparable alternatives to free tissue transfer. RECENT FINDINGS: Initial anatomic descriptions of the facial artery musculocutaneous (FAMM) flap, the supraclavicular artery island flap and the submental artery island flap were published decades ago. Since then, many have proposed modifications to these descriptions to improve technical ease and patient outcomes. Benefits of regional flaps include ease of harvest, comparable outcomes to free tissue microvascular flaps, shorter operative time and hospital length of stay. Drawbacks to regional flaps include limitations to size and reach, partial necrosis, wound dehiscence and surgeon experience. The integrity of the vascular pedicle is also contingent upon vessel preservation during the cancer ablation. SUMMARY: Although a resurgence of regional flaps began well before the COVID-19 pandemic, many institutions began looking for alternatives to free flap reconstruction to conserve healthcare resources and minimize patient hospitalization time in the past year. There has been a revival of regional flaps such as the FAMM, supraclavicular and submental flaps that are valuable reconstructive options for many defects of the head and neck.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)237-243
Number of pages7
JournalCurrent opinion in otolaryngology & head and neck surgery
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Otorhinolaryngology


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