Tissue expansion is a versatile technique to replace lost or damaged skin. It is commonly used during reconstructive procedures like breast reconstruction or to repair birth defects or injury. Dr. Bharti specializes in various reconstructive techniques at his Johnson City practice.
Why Undergo Tissue Expansion?
- Tissue expansion can be used in many types of reconstructive surgery. It is most often used during breast reconstruction, but it is also frequently used to replace lost tissue on the face, neck, hands, arms or legs.
- Unlike many other reconstructive techniques, tissue expansion offers an almost perfect match of color and texture. The skin may also be able to grow hair, making tissue expansion one of the most natural reconstructive techniques.
- Because the skin doesn't have to be moved, the donor area's blood and nerve supply remain intact – meaning there is a smaller risk that it will die. There is a reduced risk of visible scarring.
Your Tissue Expansion With Dr. Bharti
- Tissue expansion takes place as a separate procedure prior to the actual date of your reconstructive surgery. Multiple visits to our clinic will be required until ideal results are achieved.
- A general or local anesthesia combined with intravenous sedation will be administered to ensure your comfort during surgery. The entire procedure is usually completed in 1-2 hours.
- Dr. Bharti will make a small incision adjacent to the area that requires reconstruction. A balloon-like expander will then be inserted into a pocket created beneath your skin. The expander itself will be attached to a small tube and and a filling valve, which will be kept close to the surface of the skin.
- The expander will be partially filled with saline (saltwater) and the incisions will be closed with fine sutures. Repeat visits, usually on a weekly basis, will be needed to inject additional saline into the expander. The skin will gradually stretch or "grow" over time.
- Once enough skin has been created, the expander will be surgically removed. The new skin will be stretched over the area requiring reconstruction and secured in place with sutures.
What to Expect After Surgery
- Swelling, bruising, tightness and discomfort are all common during the recovery phase. Oral pain medication may be recommended to manage your pain.
- Recovery times vary. Dr. Bharti will provide you with detailed aftercare instructions based on your particular procedure.
- Most patients are able to resume work and other daily routines within a few days of surgery. Physical exercise should be avoided for a few weeks. More recovery time may be required after your second surgery.
- Generally speaking, the results of tissue expansion are often superior to other reconstructive methods. But it's important to remember that the final results may not be perfect. The ultimate goal is improvement, not perfection.
Tissue Expansion Alternatives
- A skin graft may serve as an alternative to tissue expansion. Healthy skin is taken from a donor site on the body (often the abdomen, thighs or buttocks) and transplanted to the recipient site.
- A skin flap may also be used instead of tissue expansion. Large amounts of tissue (blood vessels, skin, fat and muscle) may be transported to another area of the body.