Surgeons have relied less on skin grafts for intraoral reconstruction by extending free flap tissue onto adjacent areas that could be potentially skin grafted. Split-thickness skin grafts provide thin, reliable epithelial coverage to tissue beds that can be grafted without requiring additional flap tissue. The combined use of split-thickness skin grafts with free tissue transfer may be advantageous in select situations. Four patients underwent intraoral tumor resection with immediate reconstruction using free tissue transfer and split-thickness skin grafts. Skin grafting the tongue component of combined hemiglossectomy and floor-of-mouth (FOM) defects rather than spanning the tongue-FOM junction with flap tissue may prevent excessive bulk, improve tongue mobility, and reduce the size requirement of the flap. A split-thickness skin graft can be applied to the intraoral surface of free flaps used to reconstruct through-and-through orocutaneous defects, reducing the complexity of flap design and inset. Maxillectomy defects reconstructed with muscle flaps can be epithelialized immediately with the application of a split-thickness skin graft to provide a stable obturator cavity. In select cases, the combination of split-thickness skin grafts and free tissue transfer may have advantages over the use of flap tissue alone to cover the adjacent areas of a complex defect capable of being grafted.
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