The Foundation for Reconstructive Plastic Surgery/ Back to Basics

Microsurgery is a sosphisticated surgical technique which has applications in many surgical specialties. It involves the use of fine instruments and visual magnification to allow the surgeon to carefully manipulate very small structures. These techniques are used in neurosurgery, in gynecology, and urology, to name a few, but have nowhere been more fully developed than in plastic surgery. Their development came from use in replantation surgery ( the reattachment of severed limbs) in which plastic surgeons learned to reconnect severed vessels and nerves in trauma situations. When these methods were coupled with a newer, more accurate undertanding of the way blood vessels supply tissues, the capability for major tissue transfer over a distance came into being. Today, the most dramatic use of microsurgery is in the transfer of tissues around the body for reconstructive purposes.

A 1mm blood vessel repaired under the microscope

The operating microscope in use

While the applications of microvascular tissue transfer are numerous, among the more important are the transfers used for breast restoration after mastectomy and those employed in head and neck cancer reconstruction.

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