Patient Education: Supraclavicular Flap

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What is a Supraclavicular Flap?

A supraclavicular flap is a type of reconstructive surgery used to repair defects or wounds in the neck and lower face. This procedure involves taking a piece of tissue, including skin, fat, and sometimes muscle, from the area above the clavicle (collarbone) and moving it to the area that needs reconstruction. The tissue remains attached to its original blood supply, which helps ensure it remains healthy and viable in its new location.

Why is it Done?

This procedure is typically performed for patients who need reconstruction after surgery for head and neck cancer, trauma, or other conditions that result in significant tissue loss. The supraclavicular flap is chosen because it provides well-vascularized tissue that can be easily transferred to the neck or face.

The Procedure

  • Preparation: Before the surgery, your surgeon will discuss the procedure, its benefits, risks, and what to expect. You will be given instructions on how to prepare, which may include fasting and adjusting medications.
  • Anesthesia: The surgery is performed under general anesthesia, meaning you will be asleep and pain-free during the procedure.
  • Harvesting the Flap: The surgeon makes an incision above the collarbone and carefully dissects the tissue, ensuring that the blood supply is preserved. This tissue is then elevated while still attached to its blood vessels.
  • Transferring the Flap: The flap is then moved to the neck or face area that requires reconstruction. It is shaped and secured in place with stitches.
  • Closing the Donor Site: The area where the flap was taken from is closed with stitches, and a drain may be placed to prevent fluid buildup.

After the Procedure

  • Recovery: You will wake up in the recovery room where your vital signs will be monitored. You may have drains in place to remove excess fluid from the surgical sites.
  • Monitoring: The flap will be closely monitored to ensure it has a good blood supply. Nurses and doctors will check for signs of healthy tissue, such as color and temperature.
  • Pain Management: You will be given pain medication to manage discomfort. It is important to follow your surgeon's instructions on wound care and activity restrictions.
  • Follow-up: You will have follow-up appointments to monitor your healing and ensure the flap is functioning well. Stitches may be removed in about one to two weeks, and further appointments will be scheduled as needed.

Risks and Complications

As with any surgery, there are risks involved. These can include infection, bleeding, poor wound healing, or problems with the flap's blood supply. Your surgeon will discuss these risks with you and take steps to minimize them.


The supraclavicular flap can provide a durable and well-vascularized tissue for reconstruction, improving the function and appearance of the affected area. This can significantly enhance your quality of life, allowing for better movement, speech, swallowing, and aesthetic outcomes.


A supraclavicular flap is an effective option for reconstructive surgery of the neck and face. By using tissue from your own body, it provides a reliable method for repairing complex defects. Your surgical team will guide you through the process, from preparation to recovery, ensuring you achieve the best possible outcome.