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Spinal Surgery & Reconstruction

Preservation of muscle function is important to improving outcomes following spine surgery. The muscles that stabilize your spine are commonly damaged during surgery, which leads to degeneration and weakness. Combining the knowledge and expertise of plastic and spine surgery facilitates improved post-operative muscle preservation, healing and long-term results.

Why would I need a plastic surgeon during my spine surgery?

  • Precise reconstruction of your back:
  • Preserves muscle integrity.
  • Facilitates the return of muscle function.
  • Lowers infection rates.
  • Provides a well healed discrete scar.

To access the spine, your surgeon will separate the muscles below the skin, pushing them off to the side. Depending on the reason for your surgery, metal rods and screws may be used to provide spine stabilization. This hardware (also referred to as instrumentation) protrudes from your bone, keeping the muscles from returning to their pre-surgical anatomic location. Following straightforward spine surgery, this may be of little consequence; however, after extensive and complex procedures such as revision surgeries and adult degenerative deformity cases, scarring and damage to large segments of muscle can hamper recovery and lead to cavities, infections and poorly healing incisions.

Additionally, in individuals undergoing spine surgery for tumor resection, radiation is often planned following surgery. Under these circumstances, healthy muscle padding is key to withstand the radiation and prevent incision breakdown and surgical site infection.

About Spinal Procedures

Spine Surgery Procedure


Precise reconstruction of your muscles following spine surgery improves the healing process and recovery experience. Your back is meticulously closed using advanced plastic surgery technique and absorbable sutures so that your incision heals properly to ultimately become a thin, flat line.

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What to Expect

All procedures are done in a balanced and natural esthetic.


Whether your consultation takes place in the office or hospital, our initial encounter will focus on establishing an understanding of the muscle reconstruction process and the impact that this will have on your long-term outcome. It is important that we review your spine surgery history as the extent of reconstruction is heavily influenced by the current integrity of your muscles, which are often damaged from prior surgeries. We will discuss the healing process and what you can expect following the surgery. Most patients undergo a period of formal rehabilitation, the duration and extent of which will be dictated by your spine surgeon. All of your questions will be answered with the goal of creating a stress free and successful surgical experience.



The surgery is performed at Hoag Hospital in Newport beach, CA. Your spine surgeon will complete your spine surgery after which the back muscles and skin will be reconstructed. The muscles that normally lie next to your spine will be used to cover the metal hardware, serving as robust padding that fills in any empty pockets that would otherwise remain unaddressed.

These pockets become reservoirs of fluid that can develop an infection, leading to complicated revision surgery. Following hardware coverage, the remaining muscles of your back will be realigned to enhance post-operative appearance, promote nerve regrowth and improve muscle function.


Following surgery, you will be admitted to the hospital for monitoring and pain control. During your hospital stay, physical therapy will visit with you to work on progressive mobility so that you can safely return to your home environment. Soreness of the muscles is common, however improves with time as they relax and inflammation subsides.

Depending on which area of the spine undergoes surgery, a figure-of-eight brace or abdominal binder will be provided during your hospitalization and is to be worn when you are mobile. Their use is not intended to replace the spine braces that will be required by your spine surgeon:

Figure-of-eight brace: This is used post-operatively for 4-6 weeks in patients that had surgery in the upper portion of their spine. The purpose of this brace is to temporarily restrain the full used of the repaired muscles to promote healing and prevent uncomfortable spasms.

Abdominal binder: This is used post-operatively for 4-6 weeks in patients that had surgery in the mid to lower portion of their spine. The purpose of this brace is to serve a compressive function, reducing shearing forces that disrupt healing.


When the skin is closed in this manner, the risk of wound breakdown is less than 1%. The obliteration of fluid forming cavities is key to healing the deeper tissues in a predictable manner. With proper care, the incision will be a thin discrete vertical line along the center of the back.


Two drains are typically used to prevent fluid accumulation. The output is closely monitored and the drains are removed sequentially when the amount of drainage reaches an acceptably low level.

Your incision is closed using absorbable sutures to provide the most optimal healing environment and long-term scar appearance. Staples are not used.

Request a Consultation


Receive an in-depth consultation where we will thoroughly review your goals to personalize a plan focused on a natural and aesthetic result. Dr. Donald S. Mowlds, MD is located in beautiful Newport Beach, CA but is also available via a virtual consultation for out-of-town patients.

Or Call 949.759.5539

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