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What Are the Types of Microsurgery Done in Various Regions of the Body?

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5 min read


Microsurgery involves precisely repairing tiny structures like blood vessels and nerves using magnification and small tools.

Medically reviewed by

Dr. A.k. Tiwari

Published At May 22, 2024
Reviewed AtMay 22, 2024


Reconstructive microsurgery is a specialized area of surgery where doctors use advanced microscopes and precise tools to fix tiny structures like blood vessels and nerves that are only a few millimeters wide. This type of surgery has greatly helped people recover from injuries, cancer, and birth defects by restoring their appearance and function. Plastic surgeons often use microsurgery for specific tasks, such as moving tissue from one part of the body to another (free tissue transfer), reattaching body parts cut off (replantation), and transplanting multiple tissue types together. These microsurgical procedures are very detailed and customized for each patient. They are usually done for complex cases where simpler methods, like stitching the wound closed, skin grafts, or using nearby tissue, are insufficient.

What Are the Principles of Microsurgery Training?

Microsurgical skills are crucial for plastic surgeons. Learning microsurgery involves developing precise hand-eye coordination and using specialized tools and magnification, which differ from regular surgical techniques.

  • The importance of microsurgery is based on the fact that plastic surgeons need to be skilled in microsurgery.

  • Training programs in the United States now make microsurgery a core part of their training.

  • Unique skills in microsurgery require special skills like fine hand-eye coordination and using microscopes and delicate instruments.

Modern Training Methods:

  • The old learning method of watching and helping experienced surgeons must be updated.

  • Training now follows standards set by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) and includes required practice cases.

  • Training is becoming more efficient by using simulation-based and hands-on practice.

  • Many programs use simulation labs to help doctors develop their skills early on.

What Are the Types of Microsurgery Done in Various Regions of the Body?

Microsurgery for Reattaching Fingers and Thumbs:

  • Microsurgery is now a standard technique used to reattach fingers or thumbs that have been accidentally severed, such as from machinery accidents or fireworks injuries.

  • Before the advent of microsurgery, amputation was the only option. Now, surgeons can reattach fingers by connecting tiny arteries, nerves, and veins, some less than a millimeter in diameter.

  • The severed digit's best chances for successful reattachment are when it is quickly retrieved, kept moist with saline gauze, placed in a bag, and kept on ice.

  • In the operating room, the surgeons first reassemble the bones and tendons, then use microsurgery to reconnect the blood vessels, restoring blood flow to the digit.

  • Microsurgical reconstruction often involves transferring tissue from other body parts for hand injuries requiring soft tissue repair.

  • When small bones are damaged, a piece of bone with its blood supply may be taken from another area, like the knee, and transplanted to the hand to help it heal properly.

Microsurgery for Damaged Arms and Legs:

  • Reconstructive limb surgery is needed when arms or legs are severely damaged, often in accidents, leaving bones exposed or wounds infected.

  • Without microsurgery, such patients might face amputation. Surgeons can transfer muscles from other body parts to restore lost motor function. For example, a muscle from the thigh can be connected to blood vessels in the arm to help move the fingers or flex the elbow. This requires precise nerve connections to enable movement.

  • These surgeries often involve collaboration between plastic surgeons and orthopedic surgeons. Post-surgery recovery is heavily supported by specialized physical and occupational hand therapists, especially if the surgery involves significant changes like moving a leg muscle to an arm.

Microsurgery for Breast Reconstruction After Cancer:

  • Breast reconstruction after mastectomy (breast removal due to cancer) can be done using either artificial implants or autologous reconstruction, which uses the patient's tissue.

  • Even though microsurgery for autologous reconstruction is more complex and time-consuming, it provides a lifelong solution compared to implants, which may need replacement after 10 to 20 years.

  • The DIEP (deep inferior epigastric artery perforator) flap procedure is the most common type of autologous reconstruction. It involves taking tissue from the abdomen, including blood vessels, and using it to recreate the breast. Unlike older methods that risk hernias by removing entire abdominal muscles, modern techniques only preserve the muscle by accessing the necessary blood vessels.

  • Advanced microscopes and imaging techniques, like angiography, enhance the precision of these surgeries by mapping blood vessels similarly to GPS navigation.

  • While the new breast would not have the same sensation as the original, it would feel natural and help patients move past their cancer experience.

Microsurgery for Face Transplantation:

  • Face transplants are an advanced form of microsurgery used for patients with severe facial damage from various traumas.

  • Unlike other body parts, facial features cannot be reconstructed using tissue from elsewhere in the body. Instead, face transplants use tissue from deceased donors.

  • The procedure involves connecting arteries and veins from the donor’s face to the recipient. It is highly precise, as even slight misalignments can be noticeable. These surgeries can last 17 to 24 hours and involve multiple microsurgeons.

  • Recovery is lengthy, with the new face initially paralyzed. Nerve connections start to regrow after about three months, and full movement could potentially take up to two years.

  • While face transplants are still relatively new, they have significantly improved patients' survival rates and quality of life.

What Are the Steps Involved in the Microsurgery Procedure?

Step 1 - Anesthesia: Medication is given to keep a person comfortable during the surgery. Microsurgery usually requires general anesthesia because it involves very precise work and often takes a long time.

Step 2 - The Incision: Microsurgery for tissue transfer involves two sites: where the tissue is taken from (the donor site) and where it is needed (the recipient site). First, the recipient site is prepared, which might involve removing cancerous or scar tissue. Tiny blood vessels and nerves at the recipient site are carefully identified and separated. Once the right donor site is chosen, the tissue and its blood supply are removed, and its blood vessels are reconnected to those at the recipient site using a special microscope.

Step 3 - Closing the Incisions: Depending on the specific surgery and condition, the incisions may be closed using removable stitches, skin glue, or stitches that dissolve on their own.

Step 4 - See the Results: The results of the microsurgery will become apparent as the swelling goes down. It may take several months for a person to see the outcome.

What Are the Benefits of Microsurgery?

  • It is great for delicate structures like small blood vessels and nerves less than 1mm in diameter.
  • Microsurgery has expanded what is possible in reconstructions, pushing the boundaries further.

  • It now allows for reconstructing previously considered impossible defects, preventing organ loss.

  • Microsurgery has made once-impossible procedures possible, particularly in cancer surgeries, improving patients' life expectancy and quality of life.

  • Recovery time from these surgeries is usually shorter compared to larger surgeries.

  • They cause less bruising, which can make recovery more comfortable.

  • For those concerned about their health, microsurgery can be a preferable option.

  • Microsurgical treatments can significantly enhance fertility rates.

  • These surgeries improve the body's abilities, function, and overall quality of life.

  • They can address various issues, including congenital defects, injuries, diseases, and diabetic foot problems.

  • Microsurgery is especially valuable in plastic surgery, offering more advanced techniques than ever before.

What Are the Risks and Complications of Microsurgery?

All surgeries have risks, so patients must discuss what to expect and any potential complications with their surgeon.

Here are some possible risks of microsurgery:

  • Bleeding: It is normal to have some bleeding, but excessive bleeding can be a problem.

  • Flap Congestion: Sometimes, the blood flowing into a reconstructed area can exceed the blood flowing out, causing congestion.

  • Skin Loss or Tissue Necrosis: This happens when living tissue dies prematurely due to injury or blocked blood vessels, potentially leading to the loss of the entire reconstructed area.

  • Numbness: Changes in sensation or feeling in the skin may occur.

  • Anesthetic Risks: Complications related to anesthesia can sometimes arise.

  • Hematoma: This pocket of blood collects outside blood vessels, often causing localized swelling due to a vessel breakage. It can occur spontaneously in certain cases.


Microsurgery is becoming more and more common in a variety of medical specialties because of its many advantages. Its outstanding results point to a bright future. Microsurgical techniques are in greater demand as cosmetic operations become more common and cancer rates rise. These operations appear to have a promising future, especially as cancer treatments advance. Because individuals are living longer and earning more money, more people are choosing to have cosmetic operations. Microsurgery is becoming a more important medical technique as it expands into fields including cancer, cosmetics, and face procedures.

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Dr. A.K. Tiwari
Dr. A.K. Tiwari

plastic surgery-reconstructive and cosmetic surgery


blood vesselsmicrosurgery
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