Versatility of the inferiorly based nasolabial flap for reconstruction in early oral cancer patients: Our experience in a tertiary cancer centre

Rajani Bejjihalli Chandraiah, Nadimul Hoda, Subhabrata Ghosh, K. S. Sabitha, Jayesh Nathani, Vasantha Dhara Bhattiprolu


Background: The nasolabial flap is a simple, yet efficient method of soft tissue reconstruction with a very reliable blood supply which can be used to reconstruct soft tissue defects of various parts of the oral cavity. Aim of the study was to study the effectiveness of the inferiorly based nasolabial flaps for reconstruction in early oral cancer patients.

Methods: 28 patients with T1 or T2 malignant lesions of the oral cavity were studied retrospectively who underwent reconstructions using the inferiorly based nasolabial flap. Flap viability, wound problems, infections, function, scar and recurrence were noted post-operatively for all the patients included in the study. All patients were followed up for a minimum of 6 months after the surgery.  

Results: The nasolabial flap was used to reconstruct defects of buccal mucosa, oral commissure, lower lip, lateral border of the tongue, hard palate and the floor of the mouth. The flap was viable in all patients with no recurrences. Cosmetic and functional outcomes were good. However few patients developed minor complications like post-operative trismus, severe wound contracture, ectropion and infection and wound dehiscence. Intra oral hair growth over the flap used were one of the main problems in the majority of male patients.

Conclusions: If proper attention is given to flap designing, operative technique and post-operative management, the NLF is a viable and versatile option for reconstruction of small to intermediate defects of the oral cavity created post ablation of early tumors of the oral cavity.


Loco-regional flaps Nasolabial flap, Oral cancer, Reconstruction

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