Dr. Talebzadeh Practice

Tissue Expansion

The best candidates for tissue expansion Almost anyone in need of additional skin can benefit from tissue expansion. The procedure is used widely in breast reconstruction when there is not enough skin to accommodate a permanent implant to restore a woman's natural appearance. It is also an option for repairing or replacing areas of the scalp, where hair growth makes it difficult to replace lost tissue with skin from other areas of the body. Tissue expansion generally produces excellent results when reconstructing some areas of the face and neck, the hands, arms, and legs

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 looks very natural. Expansion may be more difficult on the back, torso, or other areas where skin is thick. If the affected area is severely damaged or scarred, expansion is probably not an option, since healthy skin is the first requirement.

Advantages and disadvantages

Until recently, surgeons were limited to skin flaps and skin grafts to reconstruct damaged tissue. Tissue expansion, however, provides an added technique with several advantages. First, expansion offers a near-perfect match of color, texture, and hair-bearing qualities. Second, because the skin remains connected to the donor area's blood and nerve supply, there is a smaller risk that it will die. In addition, because the skin doesn't have to be moved from one area to another, scars are often less apparent.

On the other hand, skin expansion has one significant drawback—the length of time required to grow additional skin. The process usually takes 3-4 months total, in which time there may be an visible bulge. Also, the procedure requires repeated visits to the surgeon for injection of the salt water that inflates the balloon.

Despite the drawbacks, tissue expansion can produce very pleasing results, and is a superior technique for its reconstructive purpose