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Orbit. 2009;28(1):12-5. doi: 10.1080/01676830802417510.

Laissez-faire: how far can you go?

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Maidstone Hospital, Kent, United Kingdom.



Lid defects created by removal of tumors are conventionally repaired by lid reconstruction. An alternative to surgical repair is wound healing by secondary intention. This technique, laissez-faire, as used in the periorbital region, was first described in 1957.


This report considers how effective this technique is for defects of various sizes and different locations in the periorbital region.


Defects following excision of periocular tumors in 10 Caucasian patients were allowed to heal by laissez-faire. The locations of the defects were the medial canthus (n = 4), lower eyelid (n = 4), lateral canthus (n = 1), and upper lid (n = 1). The functional and cosmetic outcome of the healing process was noted.


A good functional and cosmetic outcome were obtained after healing by laissez-faire in 8 of the 10 patients. Of the 2 remaining patients one patient had a large medial canthal and lower lid defect which extended onto the cheek, which healed with residual scarring and medial ectropion. The second patient had a lower lid defect, which healed with a cicatricial ectropion. Of the 2 patients, only one required further surgery.


This report shows the technique of healing by laissez-faire can be extended for relatively large defects with good results. The medial canthal region and full-thickness lower lid defects remain the favored locations for healing by secondary intention. In large defects particularly with extension onto the cheek, there is a significant risk of cicatrization, and the possibility of a second corrective operation should be discussed with the patient prior to tumor excision.

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