Tissue expansion is a procedure that lets the body grow extra skin used for reconstruction in other parts of the body. Here’s how it works: a silicone balloon expander is inserted under the skin in the area where a reconstruction is scheduled. By filling it with salt water, the skin stretches and grows with time.
This procedure is utilized for many reasons, including breast reconstruction after breast removal or to repair skin damaged by birth defects or accidents. Tissue expansion is an option for anyone looking to replace lost tissue in some areas of the scalp. The procedure has been known to produce positive results in many areas, including the face and neck, arms, hands and legs.
Tissue expansion allows experienced surgeons like Dr. Bartholomew to match color, texture and hair-bearing qualities almost perfectly. It provides nearly identical skin coloring and texture and lets natural hair grow on the damaged area. There is less of a risk that the skin will die since it stays connected to the donor area’s blood and nervous system.
Scars are less apparent because the skin does not have to be moved from one area to another; it growths back at the location. The one big drawback is the wait: it can take as much as four months for tissue expansion. While the skin grows, the patient has to visit the surgeon’s office for injection of the salt water.
Anyone is a good candidate from infants to elderly people.
The risks with tissue expansion often involve concerns over the silicone and whether it will break or leak in the body. Even with the best of care, leaks do occur from time to time. But the saline is absorbed by the body and there is no harm. Occasionally, some patients develop an infection after the expander has been inserted. In that case, the expander has to be removed until the infection clears up.
During your initial consultation, you will have a chance to ask questions about tissue expander in Portland and what it will mean for you. Dr. Bartholomew will look over your medical history and evaluate your current physical condition. He will examine your skin condition as well.
Dr. Bartholomew will ensure that you understand the procedure because it does require flexibility on your part, including multiple visits during the growth of the skin.
You will be given specific instructions to properly prepare for your surgery. This will include tips on what not to eat prior to surgery, when to stop smoking (likely at least two weeks before surgery) and what to do regarding your medications. It will be recommended that you have a family member or a friend drive you home after your surgery.
The procedure can take up to two hours depending on the size and area that the skin is expanded upon. Dr. Bartholomew will make a small incision next to the area of skin where the repairs are going to be done. He will insert the balloon expander that includes a tiny tube and a self-sealing valve in a pocket beneath the skin. This allows Dr. Bartholomew to fill the expander with saline solution. That valve will remain just beneath the surface of your skin to allow more saline to be added over the next few weeks.
After your incision heals, you will visit our office periodically for Dr. Bartholomew to add more saline in the expander, which enlarges and allows your skin to stretch over the affected areas. Eventually, Dr. Bartholomew will perform a second procedure to remove the expander and reposition the new tissue.
You may feel some discomfort during your visits to our office as the saline is injected into the expander and immediately after your final surgery. There may be some swelling and bruising during your recovery phase but a prescription for relief can be provided by Dr. Bartholomew. A lot of discomfort depends on the complexity of your procedure. The pain usually lasts only a few days.
Most patients return to their normal routine within a few days. It is best that you avoid physical exercise for a few weeks. It really is predicated on the length and complexity of your surgery.
A tissue expander in Portland has given many patients an improved appearance and quality of life than they had prior to the procedure. The results have been known to be superior to other reconstructive methods used for damaged skin. Even if the procedure is time-consuming, what you end up with is an all-natural and aesthetically pleasing result.