Free tissue transfers also known as "free flaps" involve taking skin, fat, muscle, nerves and/or bone"along with its blood supply"and transferring the tissue from one part of the body and reattaching it to a distant site.
At Albany Medical Center, our plastic surgeons performs this "microsurgery" for post-traumatic defects as well as for reconstruction after cancer surgery of the breast, head and neck, and extremities. In addition to free tissue transfers, which can use tissue from a part of the body far away from the site that needs repair, he performs more traditional tissue transfers using tissue from nearby the repair site.
Free flap procedures typically lasts several hours depending on the type of reconstruction and a hospital stay may last several days as well. Although technically more complex than other reconstruction techniques, the potential benefits of free flap reconstruction can be significant after the patient has fully recovered from surgery.