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What is a Myocutaneous Flap?

Mary McMahon
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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A myocutaneous flap is a type of autologous graft, consisting of tissue taken from a patient and used on that patient's own body. As the name implies, this graft includes skin and muscle. Myocutaneous flaps can be used in a wide variety of surgical procedures by people like plastic surgeons and burn specialists. If a patient is a good candidate for a procedure involving an autologous graft, the surgeon will discuss the procedure and what to expect to help the patient prepare.

In a free flap procedure, the surgeon cuts a graft from one area of the body and transfers it to another. For example, if a patient is missing skin on the arm due to a burn injury, the surgeon could cut a flap from the leg. Rotated flaps involve cutting out a myocutaneous flap while leaving part of the tissue attached. The flap is rotated to cover the area of concern and then stitched in place. This technique allows the grafted tissue to retain its blood supply while it heals, and can improve patient outcomes.

There are numerous advantages to using autologous grafts, when they are an available option. The risk of rejection is reduced, as are concerns about risks of transmitting disease. The color and texture of the skin can be a better match, making the graft site less obvious, and the tissue is as new and fresh as it is possible to be, which also limits rejection risks. By taking skin and the underlying muscular blood supply in a myocutaneous flap, a surgeon can increase the chances of a smooth healing.

Patients preparing for a myocutaneous flap procedure should know that they will be placed under anesthesia for the procedure. It is possible to cut the graft in a technique known as netting to make it stretch further, limiting the amount of tissue that needs to be removed. The harvest site will eventually heal and grow new skin. During the healing process, it is critically important to take care of both the graft and harvest sites to limit the risk of infection and reduce the chances of graft rejection.

Once a myocutaneous flap successfully takes, it will be thoroughly perfused with blood and capable of repairing injuries, incurring damage from sun exposure, and undergoing other changes with age, just like the skin on the rest of the body. However, a myocutaneous graft will have no sensation, because it is not possible to graft the nerves.

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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a The Health Board researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By StarJo — On Jul 27, 2011

@lighth0se33 - Surgeons only use myocutaneous flaps on areas that are damaged beyond all hope of repair. My cousin suffered burns on his face in a house fire, and he had to have this type of graft. His skin was so horribly burned that it would never recover.

The surgeon used the netting technique to lessen the amount needed. He took the graft from the back of my cousin’s thigh up close to the buttocks. It’s good that they got it from that area, because he never wears shorts, so no one would ever have to see the scar.

His graft matched his face in color. As he ages, the area gets wrinkles just like the rest of his face. It really seems a natural part of him.

By lighth0se33 — On Jul 26, 2011

It’s interesting that the area the myocutaneous flap is extracted from will heal and grow new skin. I wonder why the area they put the flap on would not heal itself and patch over with new skin as well? Is it possible for an area to be so damaged that regrowth cannot occur?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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