Current literature advocates the use of complex reinnervated free flaps to re-establish oral sensation after resection of oral cavity cancers. It has been demonstrated that noninnervated flaps can also re-establish sensation. We assessed the return of sensation in local melolabial flaps used in oral reconstruction. Seven patients underwent sensory testing at intervals from 12 to 18 months after surgery. The ability to distinguish differences in temperature was present in all patients. Spontaneous return of sensitivity to touch was documented by clinical testing in 71% of the patients. Less return of sensation was seen in flaps used for defects of the buccal mucosa relative to the floor of mouth. We conclude that spontaneous return of flap sensation does occur with local melolabial flaps. Given the simplicity of these procedures, melolabial flaps represent a reasonable alternative in floor-of- mouth reconstruction for selected patients.
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