Functional reconstruction of the oral cavity after tumor ablation is challenging. A variety of methods are available for reconstruction including primary closure, skin grafts, local cutaneous flaps, musculocutaneous flaps, and free flaps. Appropriate reconstruction addresses the size, location, and tissue needs of the defect. The melolabial flap allows for reliable and effective intraoral reconstruction with minimal donor morbidity, making it ideal for select defects. From 1989 to 1993 16 patients aged 51 to 81 years underwent reconstruction of intraoral defects with 24 melolabial flaps. Twenty-two flaps survived without complication and two flaps failed, for success rate of 91.7%. The two failed flaps occurred in the same patient. Of the remaining patients 8 had prior radiation therapy and 11 had prior or concomitant neck dissections. The flaps were used to reconstruct 13 floor- of-mouth, 1 buccal mucosa, 1 retromolar trigone, and 1 gingival defect. We conclude that the melolabial flap is ideal for select intraoral defects.
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