Buccal Myomucosal Flap Repair for Velopharyngeal Dysfunction

Sarah N. Chiang, Annahita R. Fotouhi, Lynn M. Grames, Gary B. Skolnick, Alison K. Snyder-Warwick, Kamlesh B. Patel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background: Velopharyngeal dysfunction (VPD) is the incomplete separation of the nasal and oral cavities during speech sound production that can persist following primary palatoplasty. Surgical technique used in management of VPD (palatal re-repair versus pharyngeal flap or sphincter pharyngoplasty) is often dictated by the preoperative velar closing ratio and closure pattern. Recently, buccal flaps have increased in popularity in management of VPD. Here, the authors investigate the effectiveness of buccal myomucosal flaps in the treatment of VPD. Methods: A retrospective review was performed of all patients undergoing secondary palatoplasty with buccal flaps at a single center between 2016 and 2021. Preoperative and postoperative speech outcomes were compared. Speech assessments included perceptual examinations, graded on a four-point scale of hypernasality, and speech videofluoroscopy, from which the velar closing ratio was obtained. Results: A total of 25 patients underwent buccal myomucosal flap procedures for VPD at a median of 7.1 years after primary palatoplasty. Patients had significantly increased velar closing postoperatively (95% versus 50%; P < 0.001) and improved speech scores (P < 0.001). Three patients (12%) had continued hypernasality postoperatively. There were no occurrences of obstructive sleep apnea. Conclusions: Treatment of VPD with buccal myomucosal flaps leads to improved speech outcomes without the risk of obstructive sleep apnea. Traditionally, palatal re-repair techniques have been used for smaller preoperative velopharyngeal gaps; however, the addition of buccal flaps allows for anatomical velar muscle correction for patients with a larger preoperative velopharyngeal gap. CLINICAL QUESTION/LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Therapeutic, IV.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)842-850
Number of pages9
JournalPlastic and reconstructive surgery
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2023


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