Tissue expansion is a relatively straightforward procedure that enables the body to “grow” extra skin for use in reconstructing almost any part of the body. A silicone balloon expander is inserted under the skin near the area to be repaired and then gradually filled with salt water over time, causing the skin to stretch and grow. Although tissue expansion is most commonly used for breast reconstruction, it also may be used to repair skin damaged by birth defects, accidents or surgery, and in certain cosmetic procedures.
Almost anyone in need of additional skin can benefit from tissue expansion, from infants to elderly men and women. Generally, the results of tissue expansion are superior to other methods used to reconstruct or repair damaged skin. But keep in mind, the goal is improvement, not perfection. For most tissue expansion patients, the procedure dramatically improves their appearance and quality of life following surgery.
A silicone balloon expander is inserted beneath the skin. Once in place, the expander is gradually filled with salt water through a tiny valve.
When the tissue has grown to the desired amount, the expander is removed. In breast reconstruction, a permanent implant is then inserted.
Tissue Expansion is ideal for scalp repair because the stretched skin on the scalp retains normal hair growth. Most other body tissue does not grow hair to the same degree.
Following tissue expansion, the repaired scalp restores a more natural appearance.
Expansion is also used to repair skin on the head and neck, hands, arms, and legs.