Antero-lateral Thigh Flap

Last modified on June 21st, 2018

Antero-lateral Thigh Flap

This is a flap of either some or all of skin, fat, fascia and muscle from the side of the thigh taken along with its supplying vessels. Because of this it can be a versatile flap, tailored for the specific situation.

The advantage of this flap is that actually quite a large amount can be taken from thigh without causing much problem to patients. Unfortunately it tends to be too bulky for smaller mouth defects.

It is a good option for larger defects in the mouth – for example, total glossectomy – or for defects of the skin of the head, neck or cheek after cancer surgery, and has good reliability. Also the donor site usually closes up without the need for a skin graft.



Relatively rarely, patients can develop some wound infection.

Haematoma / Seroma

This is either a collection of blood under the skin (Haematoma) or serous fluid (Seroma).

At the time of your surgery a plastic tube will be placed in to the wound, and this drains out any fluid that might collect in the space created by the operation. This is collected in to drain bottles and the amount over 24 hours is assessed to decide how long it needs to stay in for. This is usually around 3-4 days.

It’s rare that patients require a haematoma in the thigh draining – if required this would usually be under a general anaesthetic.


This is a collection of serous fluid which continues to collect in the wound. This occurs more commonly when larger flaps including muscle have been performed. This usually settles over time but sometimes needs repeated aspiration of fluid for a few weeks.


Usually patients will have a scar along the side of their thigh running from just below the hip to above the knee.


Occasionally patients report some numbness to the skin on the side of the thigh, but rarely does this seem to cause any problems.