Introduction: Active smoking is known to impair wound healing following free tissue transfer for reconstruction due to its vasoconstrictive effect on the microcirculation. The aim of this study was to evaluate the impact of flap selection on flap loss, in nonelective, traumatic extremity-free soft tissue transfer in active smokers. Methods: All patients undergoing a free tissue transfer for acute trauma of the extremity at a level I trauma center from 2011 to 2017 were identified. Breast reconstruction and osseous/osseocutaneous flaps were excluded. The study population was divided in two groups based on the type of flap used (muscle versus perforator flap). Factors known to be associated with impaired wound healing were extracted from the database. Primary outcome was major smoking related complications (complete/partial flap loss). Secondary outcomes included minor flap-related complications (infection, dehiscence) and donor site complications. The impact of smoking was assessed for the different type of flaps using multivariate analyses. Results: A total of 118 flaps were identified during the study period. Out of those, 52 were perforator-based fasciocutaneous flaps, while 66 were muscle flaps. Active smoking status resulted in a statistically significant increase in the incidence of major and minor complications in the perforator flap group (36% vs. 4%, adjusted odds ratio, AOR [95%CI]: 2.31[1.48,19.30], adj-p = 0.021 and 32% vs. 17%, AOR [95% CI]: 1.23[1.11,14.31], adj-p = 0.034) but had no impact in the muscle group. Conclusions: The present study suggests a higher incidence of flap related complications in smokers when a perforator flap was selected but no impact when a muscle flap was utilized.
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