Stabilizing morbidity and predicting the aesthetic results of radial forearm free flap donor sites

Tae Kyoung Yun, Eul Sik Yoon, Duck Sun Ahn, Seung Ha Park, Byung Il Lee, Hyon Surk Kim, Hi Jin You

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    10 Citations (Scopus)


    Background The radial forearm flap is a versatile, widely used flap. However, the possibility of donor site complications has led to concern over its use. Some surgeons prefer using other flaps whose donor sites can be closed primarily with less morbidity, including avoiding unpleasant scarring. However, in our experience, donor site stability of the radial forearm flap can be reliably achieved by using well-implemented specific procedures. Here, we present a collection of donor site cases of the radial forearm flap and investigate factors that affect the aesthetic results as the basis for a reference for selecting a radial forearm flap. Methods In this retrospective study, we reviewed 171 cases in which a radial forearm flap was used for free tissue transfer after resecting head and neck cancer. We focused on donor site morbidity rates. Each operation involved a detailed procedure designed to minimize donor site morbidity. Moreover, statistical investigations were conducted for 22 cases to determine factors affecting the scar appearance. Results Only one case developed total skin graft necrosis as a major complication. Scar-related aesthetic results were acceptable, and the body-mass index, body weight, diabetes, and cardiac problems were significant factors related to the appearance of scars. Conclusions Performing the radial forearm flap using a well-implemented detailed technique helps achieve acceptable donor site morbidity results. The aesthetic results were more promising for patients without excess body weight, diabetes, or cardiac problems. Therefore, anxiety about donor site morbidity should not be a reason to avoid selecting the radial forearm flap in suitable patients.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)769-775
    Number of pages7
    JournalArchives of Plastic Surgery
    Issue number6
    Publication statusPublished - 2015 Nov


    • Aesthetics
    • Cicatrix
    • Free tissue flaps
    • Morbidity
    • Skin transplantation

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Surgery


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