What is microsurgery?
As a cornerstone of Penn's Reconstructive Surgery Program, microsurgery is changing the lives of trauma victims and cancer patients.
During this complex procedure, surgeons take bone, muscle and skin from one part of the body to fill a defect in another area. The blood vessels from this "flap" are reattached and the transplanted tissue lives on in its new location.
Microsurgery can be used all over the body. At Penn, our surgeons work with patients to find safe and creative ways for microsurgery to restore appearance and function.
Who is a Good Candidate for Microsurgery?
Cancer patients and trauma victims are seeing the greatest benefits from microsurgery.
For Head and Neck Cancer Patients
Microsurgery is sometimes used to treat head and neck cancer patients. Sometimes a person who has cancer in their jaw needs to have all or part of their jaw removed. Microsurgery allows surgeons to move muscle and bone from the leg or back to recreate the jaw and restore normal appearance and function.
For Mastectomy Patients
Mastectomy patients can also benefit from microsurgery. One breast reconstruction option calls for using tissue from the belly or back to reconstruct a breast.
For Trauma Patients
Finally, microsurgery can dramatically improve the quality of life for trauma patients. After an accident, surgeons can use microsurgery techniques to move soft tissue to cover fractured bones and large, open wounds. The process can prevent infection and save limbs.
What to Expect in Microsurgery
Following all pre-operative instructions and adhering to a healthy diet are important steps to take before surgery.
Because the effects of trauma and cancer are unique, the results of microsurgery are not uniform. Preparing emotionally for the possibility that several surgeries may be necessary is a helpful step toward reaching desired goals. Also, radiation therapy may be needed after cancer resection, and the effects of radiation can alter results of reconstructive surgery.
Patients undergoing microsurgery can expect to stay in the hospital for at least five days for monitoring and have some swelling and discomfort for two to three weeks afterwards. Carefully following all postoperative orders helps speed recovery and optimize outcome.