What is a flap?
A flap is a block of tissue (skin, fat, muscle, bone, etc.) and blood vessels that are moved from their original location on the body to another site on the body.
When is a flap used?
A flap can be used in reconstructive surgery to correct injured areas or defects when either standard wound care or skin grafting is not possible, or when wounds are so large that typical wound care techniques are not able to be performed. In reconstructive procedures, flaps can be used to rebuild the damaged tissue and to help restore structure and function to the area. They also often offer a better cosmetic appearance.
Before reconstructive surgery, the surgeon must make sure that signs of infection are being actively treated. Often infection and non-viable tissue must be surgically removed. Flaps are taken after very precise measurements of the affected site so that the donor site can ideally be closed without a need for grafts. During flap reconstruction, the doctor will determine if there is sufficient blood supply.
What helps a flap heal?
After the procedure, it is imperative to monitor the site to ensure that the flap heals properly. Patients must limit physical activity, maintain adequate hydration, and monitor the dressing to ensure it is not too tight, nor too loose. Patients are also encouraged to stop smoking, because it can cause a decrease in blood supply to the flap site, which can slow flap healing.