Some patients have conditions caused by prior surgeries, birth defects, or injuries that require excess skin to correct. This excess skin may be needed to cover an implant or to be transplanted as a graft elsewhere on the body. For patients who do not have excess skin to spare, this can be a problem.
Fortunately, tissue expanders can be placed to stretch and grow the existing skin. Tissue expanders were originally used for breast reconstruction, but today they are used to correct other concerns as well.
What Are the Benefits of Tissue Expansion?
Expanding the tissue around targeted areas can make cosmetic procedures possible that otherwise could not be performed. The most common use for tissue expanders is to create the excess tissue necessary to cover a breast implant for breast reconstruction after mastectomy. They may also be used to create excess skin for skin grafts, provide the necessary tissue for breast augmentation (especially for petite women who want large implants), or provide space for implants in other areas of the body.
Schedule your consultation to learn more about tissue expanders.
How Does Tissue Expansion Work?
Tissue expanders are small silicone balloons that are surgically implanted under the skin of the area that needs extending. The balloon is gradually filled with a sterile saltwater solution over the course of weeks or months. Each time more saline is added to the expander, the skin will stretch and grow over the inflated area. When the desired amount of tissue has been grown, the expander is drained and extracted, leaving a pocket of excess tissue that can be used for further procedures. In the case of breast reconstruction, the empty pocket will be filled with a more permanent breast implant.
Is Tissue Expansion Painful?
Most patients will experience mild to moderate discomfort over the first two to three days after each periodic appointment. This discomfort is caused by the skin stretching uncomfortably in those first few days before new cell growth starts. Most patients treat this with over-the-counter medications or lifestyle changes for the duration of the treatment.
What Are the Results of Tissue Expansion?
The process of tissue expansion takes months, with periodic appointments to expand the silicone balloon. After the treatment, patients will find they have a large amount of excess skin in the treated area. This skin will remain intact if used for breast reconstruction or breast augmentation surgery. If needed, the skin can be removed and placed elsewhere for skin grafting or related treatments.
Interested in Tissue Expansion in Orange County?
If you are looking for a trusted, board-certified plastic surgeon to perform tissue expansion in Orange County, Dr. Robert Wald of The Aesthetic Institute has you covered. He will create a treatment plan for your exact needs to achieve your results.