Microsurgical Scalp Reconstruction: An Overview of the Contemporary Approach

Ping Song, Lee L.Q. Pu

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Background  Microsurgical scalp reconstruction has evolved immensely in the last half-century. The core concepts of microsurgical scalp reconstruction have always been to transfer soft tissue of a sufficient quality to within the defect while minimizing donor site morbidity. Refinements in scalp reconstruction consist of both improvement in reducing donor site morbidity and enhancing recipient site contour and balance. Furthermore, technical advancements and the vast experience within our field have allowed for preoperative evaluation of recipient vessels that are more favorable in proximity to the scalp. Methods  In this review, we aim to describe the contemporary approach to microsurgical scalp reconstruction. This is to include the indications of choosing free flaps as well as how to select the ideal flap based on patient-oriented factors. The need for cranioplasty, recipient vessel selection, operative technique, and reoperations is also reviewed. In addition, our considerations and the nuances within each category are also described. Summary  Scalp reconstructions involve the fundamental tenants of plastic surgery and demand application of these principles to each case on an individual basis and a successful reconstruction must consider all aspects, with backup options at the ready. Two workhorse free flaps, the anterolateral thigh perforator and latissimus dorsi muscles flaps, serve a primary role in the contemporary approach to microsurgical scalp reconstruction. Conclusion  We hope this review can lay the foundation for which future plastic surgeons may continue to build and advance the approach to complex microsurgical scalp reconstruction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Reconstructive Microsurgery
StateAccepted/In press - 2021


  • contemporary approach
  • cranioplasty
  • free tissue transfer
  • microsurgery
  • recipient vessels
  • scalp reconstruction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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