Tissue Expansion

A Reconstructive Surgery Technique

Tissue expansion is a versatile technique in reconstructive surgery. It is used by plastic surgeons when patients lack sufficient tissue for their reconstructive needs. At UC Irvine in Orange County, plastic surgeons use tissue expansion for a variety of procedures, including breast reconstruction.

Reasons for Tissue Expansion

Tissue expansions are typically performed to accompany another reconstructive procedure. The goal of tissue expansion is to create enough extra skin to cover or reconstruct another part of the body.

Tissue expansion is frequently used during procedures like:

  • Breast reconstruction
  • Repair of birth defects
  • Repair of traumatic injuries

Good candidates for tissue expansion are healthy non-smokers. Patients should also understand that tissue expansion is a staged procedure, which does not produce immediate results.

FAQ About Tissue Expansion in Orange County

Here are answers to some common questions about tissue expansion at UC Irvine in southern California. To receive more specific answers, we encourage you to schedule a consultation at our Orange County plastic surgery office.

How does tissue expansion work?

Tissue expansion is typically a 1-2 hour procedure that is performed with a general anesthetic. The doctor will place a balloon expander in a pocket beneath your skin. This silicone expander will be gradually filled with saline, stretching the overlying skin. The incisions are then closed and the expander is left in place, along with a fill valve beneath your skin.

Are follow-up procedures required?

During the weeks that follow, you will return to UC Irvine so your doctor can perform necessary follow-up procedures. The expander is continually filled with saline until the skin is adequately stretched. After this, you will be able to move forward to the next stage of your reconstructive surgery.

What can I expect during recovery from tissue expansion?

Tissue expansion can cause discomfort and tightening of the skin for a couple of hours. Patients can typically resume a normal routine after two to four days. Recovery time varies depending on the reasons for your tissue expansion. After your procedure, you will be discharged with specific post-operative steps for the recovery period.

To learn more about tissue expansion in Orange County, please contact the plastic surgery department of UC Irvine. We are located in the city of Orange, CA.