What is Tissue Flap?

Tissue flaps in dogs are used for various reasons. A tissue flap reconstruction is usually a result of a traumatic injury, a blunt force injury, tumors, or neglect. This treatment places the useable tissue on an area in need of viable tissue from a donor site on the dog’s body. These tissue flaps can be of skin, muscle, cartilage, or other tissue which carry a blood and/or nerve supply. This is an invasive surgery your veterinarian will use to cover or replace an area of missing cutaneous and subcutaneous tissue. There are many different kinds of tissue flaps depending on the location of the injury or defective tissue and the donor site on the dog.

Book First Walk Free!

Tissue Flap Procedure in Dogs

Your veterinary surgeon will pick a healthy area of tissue from which to donate on your dog’s body. Your veterinarian may discuss the different options they will choose to perform this surgery. Depending on the injured or defective site, your veterinarian will try to choose the best spot, preferably a site close to the defect. There are different types of flaps your veterinarian may choose. An axial pattern flap will have a major cutaneous artery and veins within a radius of the defect. Your veterinarian may speak of varying types of axial flaps. Advancement, interpolation, omental, pedicle, pouch or hinge, rotational, or transposition flaps are options for local flap surgery. The tissue for these flaps will be adjacent to the injury or defect. The kind of flap your veterinary surgeon uses will depend on the location of the usable flap compared to the defect and the shape of the wound and tissue flap as they relate to one another. For example, a transposition flap will be rectangular in shape and adjacent to the wound or defect. Your veterinary surgeon will transpose this flap over the adjacent defect.

Once your surgeon determines the type of flap best for the repair, the segment of tissue containing veins and potentially a direct artery are removed from the donor site either entirely or partially. Your surgeon will then surgically reconnect blood vessels, veins, arteries, and tissue to the same veins and tissue in the defective site. The reconnection of this tissue and circulatory system within will give this flap tissue the best chance of survival.

Because this is invasive surgery, a veterinary surgeon may be required, and your dog will be placed under anesthesia. There will be a fasting duration before surgery. Your veterinarian will give you pre-operation procedures and instructions before your scheduled surgery.

Efficacy of Tissue Flap in Dogs

The efficacy rate with a tissue flap procedure is very high. Transferring the blood vessels and circulatory necessities with the flap, unlike a graft, will give the tissue to best chance for survival after reconnecting. No matter the reason for the tissue flap requirement, the defective and donor sites will be healthy within a few weeks. Scarring may occur, but with recovering and healing, this tissue will act as if it belonged in its new place from the start. Few complications have arisen from this sort of tissue transplantation, but with an efficacy rate of 90% to 95%, the chances of the tissue acting as healthy tissue after healing are high.

Tissue Flap Recovery in Dogs

Your veterinarian will give you pre- and post- surgery instructions. The surgical team may require medication to prevent blood clots before surgery. The surgical team will keep your dog post-surgery until they are comfortable sending the dog home. Heading home will depend on your dog’s demeanor and how well he is breathing on his own. Your veterinarian may want to keep your dog overnight for observation.

Once home, you will be required to change the bandages on both surgical sites. Be sure to keep these bandages loose enough for the area to breathe. Tight bandages could compress the reconnected blood vessels. It will be crucial your dog be kept away from the surgical site. Licking or chewing on the site could cause a rupture in the sutures as well as infection. A cone collar might be recommended.

Your veterinarian may send you and your dog home with anti-inflammatory medications and antibiotics.

Follow all post-op instructions and be sure to attend the necessary follow-up appointments for tissue re-checks.

Your dog may be placed on rest and allowed on a leash for elimination purposes only for a week or two. It may take a couple of months for the entire site to become fully healed. Your veterinarian will advise based on the nature and size of the surgical site.

Cost of Tissue Flap in Dogs

Depending on your veterinarian and their specialty, this tissue flap procedure will cost between $1,000 and $5,000. The high prices in this range would be for an intense and complicated surgery on a large scale. One tissue flap with anesthesia and an initial office visit will be between $1,000 and $1,500. Plan on additional costs to cover any medications and additional follow-up visits. These will run between $50 and $150. 

Dog Tissue Flap Considerations

If your dog has an injury from a traumatic event or an area where tissue has been removed to treat a cancerous tumor, consider the trauma the dog has been through. The traumatic events are often horrific. A tissue flap will give your dog a healthy tissue with full circulatory necessities in the injured or defective area.

Do not consider this surgery if your dog has an infection until your veterinarian has treated the infection and cleared the dog for surgery. Once the affected area has healed, your dog will have feeling and mobility in the defective area.

Tissue Flap Prevention in Dogs

Cancer is often unknown until it is a problem and diagnosed. Giving your dog the best possible diet, daily exercise, and a healthy lifestyle will give your dog the best chance of fighting cancer before cells grow. Healthy lifestyles within your family can also help your dog to stay healthy. Do not give your dog people food. Exercise with your family and the dog. Keep second-hand smoke away from your pets, and do not smoke in or around your home.

Unfortunately, some traumatic injuries cannot be prevented. However, you can control the environment in which your dog plays. Keep them protected within a fenced yard or inside your home. Keep a careful watch on your dog when around other people or other animals. Keep your dog away from the street and moving vehicles.