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imageIntroduction: The ability to use the anterolateral thigh (ALT) flap as a vascularized fascial flap, without skin or muscle, was first documented by Koshima et al in 1989. The authors mention the possibility of using the fascia alone for dural reconstruction. Despite its description more than 20 years ago, little literature exists on the application of the ALT flap as a vascularized fascial flap. In our experience, the ALT flap can be used as a fascia-only flap for thin, pliable coverage in extremity reconstruction.
Methods: After approval from the institutional review board, the medical records and photographs of patients who had undergone fascia-only ALT free flaps for extremity reconstruction were reviewed. Photographic images of patients were then matched to patients who had undergone either a muscle-only or a fasciocutaneous free flap reconstruction of an extremity. Photographs of the final reconstruction were then given to medical and nonmedical personnel for analysis, focusing on aesthetics including color and contour.
Results: Review of cases performed over a 2-year period demonstrated similar ease of harvest for fascia-only ALT flaps compared to standard fasciocutaneous ALT flaps. Fascia-only flaps were used for thin, pliable coverage in the upper and lower extremities. There was no need for secondary procedures for debulking or aesthetic flap revision. In contrast to muscle flaps, which require muscle atrophy over time to achieve their final appearance, there was a similar flap contour from approximately 1 month postoperatively throughout the duration of follow-up. When a large flap is required, the fascia-only ALT has the advantage of a single-line donor-site scar. Photograph comparison to muscle flaps with skin grafts and fasciocutaneous flaps demonstrated improved color, contour, and overall aesthetic appearance of the fascia-only ALT over muscle and fasciocutaneous flaps.
Conclusions: The fascia-only ALT flap provides reliable, thin, and pliable coverage with improved contour and color over muscle and fasciocutaneous flaps. The fascia-only ALT is another excellent option for reconstructive surgery of the extremities.

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