Tissue Expansion

If you are to undergo a reconstructive procedure, often breast reconstruction, our plastic surgery team can perform a tissue expansion procedure if an excess of tissue is not available on your body. Tissue expansion:
  • Produces extra skin necessary for a reconstructive surgery
  • Is a generally superior method to reconstruct damaged skin

Who should undergo tissue expansion?

The tissue expansion technique can be used to create excess skin as part of many reconstructive procedures such as repairing skin damaged by birth defects, accidents or surgery and for some cosmetic procedures, but is most often used in breast reconstruction.

How does the procedure work?

The average tissue expansion operation takes 1-2 hours to complete and is performed on an outpatient basis either under a local or general anesthetic. Your plastic surgeon will make a small incision near the area to be repaired. He/she will then insert a silicone balloon expander in a pocket created under the skin.

Through a valve on the balloon, your plastic surgeon will gradually fill the expander with saline, leaving the valve just beneath your skin’s surface. Once the initial incision has healed, you will undergo additional procedures to further fill the expander. As the balloon is enlarged with saline under your skin, you may feel some discomfort from the pressure.

Once the skin has stretched adequately, the expander will be removed and your plastic surgeon can continue with your reconstructive surgery.

What can I expect after tissue expansion?

For the first hour or two following the expansion of the balloon, you may feel some discomfort. If breast removal is a part of your treatment and it is performed separately from the tissue expansion, you may resume normal activities within a few days. After a follow-up procedure, you may be able to resume normal activity within a week.

Possible risks associated with tissue expansion may include infection, expander leak, hematoma, seroma, expander deflation/migration, loss of hair growth and scar widening.

Learn more about tissue expansion in Kansas City

To learn more about tissue expansion and reconstructive surgery, contact the plastic surgeons. During a consultation, you can discuss your goals and learn more about how tissue expansion techniques can be vital in helping you through your reconstructive surgery.