As Ferris Bueller is famous for saying, “Life moves pretty fast.” It’s the speed that can lead to many traumatic injuries such as broken bones, severed nerves, or torn muscles. Beyond traumatic injuries, chronic and open wounds can fail to heal. Bone and soft tissue can need to be rebuilt after a tumor or cancer removal.
This is lower extremity reconstruction. It involves everything from the hips to the toes with the goal of saving the limb, clearing and repairing damage, and returning function for the future.
For board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Brian Olack, lower extremity reconstruction is one of the specialties he provides at Olack Plastic Surgery in Show Low.
What is lower extremity reconstruction?
Lower extremity reconstruction is named simply for its location, encompassing the lower extremities. These are surgical procedures that require a great deal of technical skill to repair the hips, legs, and feet after traumatic events, cancer, an infection, or from congenital origins. They involve bones, tendons, muscles, blood vessels, nerves, and skin. Microvascular techniques may be necessary to repair damaged blood vessels, damaged nerves, or to reconstruct damaged soft tissues and bones.
What conditions does lower extremity reconstruction address?
Any time there is serious damage to the hips, legs, and feet, these are likely to require this sort of reconstruction surgery. Here are some specifics:
- Traumatic injuries — These are injuries to bones, soft tissues, muscles, blood vessels, or nerves.
- Non-traumatic injuries — These are open, non healing wounds related to diabetes, or bone or soft tissue infections.
- Tumor/cancer removal — This involves bone and soft tissue reconstruction after having these malignant growths removed.
- Post-amputation concerns — This is the correction of painful nerve stumps, poor contour for prosthetic fittings, phantom limb pain, and other issues.
Who is a candidate for lower extremity reconstruction?
The best candidates for lower extremity reconstruction are people who suffer from open wounds or defects in a lower extremity as a result of trauma, disease, or congenital abnormality.
Candidates for these surgeries with Dr. Olack often are faced with the very real possibility of losing a leg or foot to amputation.
How are these lower extremity reconstruction surgeries done?
As you would assume, each of these surgeries is unique due to the traumatic event and other factors. Dr. Olack uses microsurgery techniques for reconnecting blood vessels and nerves. He also has extensive experience with the intricacies of microsurgical techniques for hand surgery, and he applies these to the lower extremities, especially the feet.
This is a sampling of techniques he uses for these procedures:
- Flap reconstruction — This is used when tissue is needed at an injury site. Flap surgery takes healthy, live tissue from a location deemed non-essential by the patient, and the tissue is placed and attached to an area that has lost skin, fat, muscle, or bone.
- Limp replantation — On the lower body, this surgical technique reattaches toes or feet.
- Nerve & blood vessel reconstruction — When blood flow has been impacted or nerve activity disrupted, Dr. Olack uses microsurgery to repair these vital structures.
- Targeted muscle reinnervation (TMR) — This technique helps patients after amputation of a leg or foot to overcome phantom limb pain and residual limb pain that occurs due to neuromas (scarred nerve ends).
How successful is lower extremity reconstruction?
Success is hard to quantify in these surgeries. What is success? Is saving a leg heading for amputation success? What about the complete return of function? How do you measure the success of flap surgery or skin grafting? Plus, these injuries and conditions vary widely from patient to patient.
Dr. Olack’s goal and his measure of success is to achieve the level of function and pain relief moving forward that allows his patient to get back into their life.
What are the potential risks involved with lower extremity reconstruction?
These are intricate surgeries requiring all of Dr. Olack’s expertise and training. With the size of some of these wounds, the danger of infection is almost constant. Otherwise, there are the usual risks of any surgery, such as reaction to anesthesia, excessive bleeding, poor wound healing, and blood clot development.
With lower extremity reconstruction, the real risk is not having a board-certified plastic surgeon such as Dr. Olack handle the procedure. His training, experience, and expertise ensure the best possible outcomes for these intricate surgeries.
Schedule a Consultation with Dr. Olack!
To learn more about Lower Extremity Reconstruction or to determine whether you are a candidate for the procedure, be sure to book a personalized consult with Dr. J. Brian Olack. Call Olack Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery today at 928.537.6767, or click here to send our staff an email contact form. Our practice looks forward to serving you!
Individual results vary. Seek medical advice before starting any treatment.