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Scalp complications of craniofacial surgery: classification, prevention, and initial approach: an updated review






Scalp complications in craniofacial surgeries can increase morbidity and mortality. Given the inelastic characteristics of the scalp, these surgeries can be challenging, and multiple complications can arise. The literature on craniofacial surgery is extensive. However, few articles address scalp complications, associated factors, and prevention. This study aims to identify and classify scalp complications in craniofacial surgery and describe associated risk factors, general preventive measures, and an initial therapeutic approach.




We conducted a literature search in PubMed, Scopus, Cochrane Library, and LILACS to review the scalp complications in craniofacial surgery. The studies selected included retrospective case series, narrative reviews, systematic reviews, and cadaveric anatomic studies. We completed the search with book chapters and specific topic reviews.




We screened a total of 124 sources and selected 35 items for inclusion in this review. Based on the updated review, we categorized scalp complications into wound defects, soft tissue contour irregularities, neurovascular defects, and infection. We discuss the main characteristics, risk factors, preventive measures, and initial management of these complications.




For craniofacial surgery, understanding the surgical anatomy, identifying risk factors, adequate surgical planning, and interdisciplinary cooperation between neurosurgeons, plastic surgeons, and the interdisciplinary team are essential to prevent and treat scalp complications.