The submental artery island flap for head and neck reconstruction

S. L. Merten, R. P. Jiang, David Caminer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

65 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Following excisional surgery for head and neck cancer, most complex defects are reconstructed using microvascular free tissue transfer. These methods offer many advantages; however, they are of increasing complexity with attendant risks of flap loss and donor site problems. The submental artery island flap is a recently described local flap that may be used for reconstruction of the lower and middle thirds of the face and oral cavity, and offers the advantages of simplicity, reliability and excellent cosmesis. We have been using this flap as an alternative to free tissue transfer, and in this paper we present our series of 11 cases, after a review of the recent literature, anatomy and surgical technique. The advantages and limitations of the use of this flap are presented. Methods: A consecutive series of 11 patients in which this reconstruction was performed was reviewed retrospectively, and the results studied. Advantages and disadvantages of this reconstructive method were determined to define appropriate indications and contra-indications for its use. Results: We have used this flap in 11 patients for post-excisional soft tissue reconstruction of the head and neck, both as skin and as a mucosal replacement. In all but two patients the results were satisfactory, with excellent cosmesis when used as skin replacement. One patient required secondary debulking and one had complete flap loss. In all, the donor site was satisfactory. Conclusions: The Submenal Artery Island Flap is a useful addition to the reconstructive surgeon's options and has definite advantages over distant flaps in terms of ease of dissection, final cosmetic appearance and donor site appearance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)121-124
Number of pages4
JournalANZ Journal of Surgery
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Facial neoplasms
  • Head and neck neoplasms
  • Reconstructive surgical procedures
  • Skin transplantation
  • Squamous cell carcinoma
  • Surgical flaps


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