Skin reconstruction surgery may be required following traumatic injury or surgical removal of tumours. Wounds which are a direct result of trauma need to be managed with appropriate wound care initially, sometimes 3-10 days, to clean out the infected tissue and debris, prior to wound closure using a skin flap. The skin of cats and dogs is relatively mobile compared to that of people. The skin has a blood supply which allows the skin to be rotated and moved as flaps (axial pattern flaps, subdermal plexus flaps, free skin grafts), to allow coverage of large areas of skin loss in one area by movement of skin from another area.
Complications associated with skin flaps may occur, and are related to excessive movement at the surgical site causing pulling on the skin edges which are prone to opening up, accumulation of fluid under the skin (seroma), pressure related to lying down on the skin flap compromising blood supply, and wound infection. Complications vary for each case and the risks associated with the procedures will be discussed on an individual basis. Generally complications with skin flaps are in the region of 10-30%, with most complications being either minor partial wound opening or infection, with a few being major complications associated with complete or near complete skin flap failure and opening, sometimes requiring prolonged bandaging or repeat surgery.