Plastic Surgeons spend a minimum of 7 years after finishing medical school studying anatomy and the techniques of plastic surgery before becoming fully qualified. The detailed knowledge of the anatomy of blood supply to all tissues allows plastic surgeons to safely move tissues around the body while maintaining the blood supply. Maintaining the blood flow to the tissue is essential for healing and allows larger pieces of tissue to be safely moved around the body.
When tissue is moved maintaining the blood supply this is known as a “flap”. Flaps may remain attached to the body (known as a pedicled flap) or may be moved from distant areas and the blood flow reconnected by microsurgery to nearby blood vessels (known as a free flap).
The use of flaps in plastic surgery allows the most appropriate tissue that will be the least noticeable to be used to reconstruct tissue defects.