Tissue expansion is an operative technique that involves stretching of skin, producing some "extra skin" that may then be used for multiple purposes. Skin is stretched using a tissue expander, surgically placed under the skin. After waiting about three weeks, the expander is gradually inflated by placing a needle through the skin into a self-sealing port in the expander. Varying amounts of sterile salt water and injected into the expander, increasing its volume and stretching the overlying tissues and skin. Later, this stretch skin is used either to enclose an implant (for breast reconstruction) or advanced over an adjacent scar, permitting scar removal and replacement. Your plastic surgeon can advise you regarding the appropriate technique for you, as well as the risks and complications.
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