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Plastic and cosmetic surgery

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Tissue expansion

Tissue expansion is a relatively straightforward procedure that enables the body to "grow" extra skin for use in reconstructing almost any part of the body. A silicone balloon expander is inserted under the skin near the area to be repaired and then gradually filled with salt water over time, causing the skin to stretch and grow. It is most commonly used for breast reconstruction following breast removal-but it's also used to repair skin damaged by birth defects, accidents or surgery, and in certain cosmetic procedures.

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.

Usually local anesthesia, combined with a sedative. In most cases, the initial operation will take one to two hours, depending on the size and area of skin to be expanded.

Recovery time

How soon the patient normal returns to routine depends on the length, complexity and type of surgery you've had. For breast reconstruction patients, if tissue expansion is separate from breast removal, normal activity can resume in two to four days. Most tissue expansion patients find they can keep up with their normal routine while the expander is in place. Following the second surgery, most patients are up and about within a week.