Plastic surgery for soft tissue sarcoma

During your operation you may need some plastic surgery to repair the area. This happens at the same time as your sarcoma operation.

The exact operation you have will be unique to you. It depends on where your sarcoma is, and how much tissue the surgeon needs to remove. Your surgeon will discuss the details of your surgery with you.

Surgeons always aim to give you a result that is as natural looking, and working as normally as possible.

Skin grafts

The surgeon may be able to pull the underlying tissues together and stitch them together.

They might need to use a skin graft to repair the surface, if there isn't enough healthy tissue to use. 

A skin graft uses a strip of skin taken from another part of your body. The area where the skin is removed is called a donor site. The donor site heals itself in the few weeks after your operation. The repair site, where the donor skin goes, will also heal but will be more delicate and it may take longer.

Tissue Flaps

Your plastic surgeon may need to use a specialist technique called a tissue flap. There are several types of flap repair. The area of the sarcoma and the size of the wound will affect which type your surgeon needs to use.

Local flap 

A local flap means that the surgeon uses tissue next to the wound to repair it. 

Pedicle flap

A pedicle flap is a flap taken from a little further away but close enough to leave the flap's original blood supply connected.

Free flap

A free flap is a transplant of tissue from one part of your body to another. The tissues under the skin are taken from the donor site, as well as the skin. The flap of tissue and skin is removed with its own blood vessels. The surgeon connects the blood vessels up in the new site, so that the flap has a good blood supply. This is vital for it to heal properly. The donor site might need a skin graft. 

After surgery

If you have had plastic surgery, your nurses will keep a close eye on the wound area to make sure it has a good blood supply. They will check a flap repair to make sure the skin has a good colour and temperature and is not getting swollen.

Last reviewed: 
16 Jul 2021
Next review due: 
16 Jul 2024
  • UK guidelines for the management of soft tissue sarcomas
    A Dangoor and others 
    Clinical Sarcoma Research, 2016. Volume 6, number 20, pages 1 to 26

  • Complex Reconstruction After Sarcoma Resection and the Role of the Plastic Surgeon: A Case Series of 298 Patients Treated at a Single Center

    J Leckenby and others 

    Annals of plastic surgery (2018) volume 80. issue 1, pages 59-63

  • The Royal Marsden Manual of Clinical Nursing Procedures (10th edition)

    S Lister (Editor) and others

    Wiley-Blackwell, 2020

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