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Dermatology Online Journal

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Management of surgical soft tissue defects of the lower extremities


Management of post-operative soft-tissue defects on the lower legs is challenging owing to arterial and venous insufficiency, poor skin quality including epidermal and dermal atrophy, insufficient tissue laxity, and increased risk of infection. This paper highlights the management of post-operative soft-tissue defects on the lower extremity that cannot be closed primarily or by reconstruction with a local flap. A systematic review of the literature was performed using the National Library of Medicine (NLM) PubMed online database. Articles were included if they reported the management of post-operative lower extremity soft-tissue defects with secondary intention healing, full-thickness skin graft, split-thickness skin grafts, or skin substitutes. Sixty-three articles were included for analysis. There are several options for managing surgical defects on the lower legs and the method chosen should depend on various factors, including the quality of the skin, vascularity and size of the defect, medical history of the patient, and the experience of the surgeon.

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