Background: Reconstruction of large, composite defects in the craniofacial region has evolved significantly over the past half century. During this time, there have been significant advances in craniofacial and microsurgical surgery. These contributions have often been in parallel; however, over the past 10 years, these two disciplines have begun to overlap more frequently, and the techniques of one have been used to advance the other. In the current review, the authors aim to describe the available options for free tissue reconstruction in craniofacial surgery. Methods: A review of microsurgical reconstructive options of aesthetic units within the craniofacial region was undertaken with attention directed toward surgeon flap preference. Results: Anatomical areas analyzed included scalp, calvaria, forehead, frontal sinus, nose, maxilla and midface, periorbita, mandible, lip, and tongue. Although certain flaps such as the ulnar forearm flap and lateral circumflex femoral artery-based flaps were used in multiple reconstructive sites, each anatomical location possesses a unique array of flaps to maximize outcomes. Conclusions: Craniofacial surgery, like plastic surgery, has made tremendous advancements in the past 40 years. With innovations in technology, flap design, and training, microsurgery has become safer, faster, and more commonplace than at any time in history. Reconstructive microsurgery allows the surgeon to be creative in this approach, and free tissue transfer has become a mainstay of modern craniofacial reconstruction.
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