Background and objectives: One of the most difficult regions of the face to reconstruct after avulsion is the oral region, specifically the lips, due to the complex natural architecture of the lost tissue (compromising skin, oral mucosa and muscle tissue) that is very difficult to replace. Present surgical procedures to address this issue have been unsatisfactory. The only other alternative is face transplants which requires lifelong immunosuppression of the recipient. The ability to develop ‘designer’ vascularized prefabrication flap will increase the options available to a reconstructive surgeon.
Methods: We have developed a rat model to assess the functional aspect of sphincter contraction by creating a prelaminated flap utilizing the latissimus dorsi muscle and a dermal equivalent, AlloDerm ® (LifeCell Corp.).
Results: After four weeks the prelaminated latissumus dorsi muscle was surgically exposed and a stoma or opening was made in the dermal equivalent. Muscle function tests were performed using a manometre.
Conclusions: We report the development of an animal to assist in the tissue engineering of a set of autogenous human lips could be used for surgical lip reconstruction in individuals suffering from lip loss from cancer, congenital deformations, and injuries after accidents.
Key words: tissue engineering; lips; animal model