Reconstructive surgery is exactly what it sounds like: surgery to reconstruct an area of the body. The goal of reconstructive surgery is to restore normal function and appearance following trauma or deformity. Reconstructive surgery and cosmetic surgery are both forms of plastic surgery, however cosmetic surgery aims to improve areas of the body that are already normal in appearance and function. There are many different techniques used in reconstructive surgery, one of which is tissue expansion which we will explore below.
What is Tissue Expansion?
Tissue expansion is a technique that essentially allows the body to grow and stretch extra skin for use in reconstructive surgery. This procedure can be completed on many areas of the body, but is more commonly used on the scalp and for skin cancer treatments and tumor removal procedures.
This is a multi-step procedure. During the first surgery, a tissue expander that is comprised of a silicone plastic balloon is placed under the skin. General anesthesia is provided to the patient and the surgery will take about one to two hours to complete. A small incision is made next to the area of skin being reconstructed and the expander is placed into the pocket created below the skin. A tiny injection tube connected to the expander is placed just under the skin.
Over the next few weeks, Dr. Stuart Bentkover will gradually inject saline solution through the injection tube into the expander at regular appointments. The addition of saline solution gradually increases the size of the expander, allowing the skin to stretch and expand for use in the reconstruction area. Typically, the injections will start ten days after the first surgery and they will be conducted in Dr. Bentkover’s office. The extender will remain in place under the skin for about three to four months. Once the skin is stretched enough to cover the desired area, a second reconstruction surgery will be completed and the new skin will be repositioned to reconstruct the area of the body being treated.
The recovery period following tissue expansion can depend on many factors, including the patient’s health and the size of the area being reconstruction. Typically, a patient can resume normal to moderate activity one to two weeks following the second surgery. Nothing too strenuous should be done, only minor every day activities until the patient feels they’ve healed. Patients who are in good physical and psychological health will benefit the most from this treatment. A patient will feel minor discomfort after each injection is completed. After the second surgery, Dr. Bentkover suggests that patients make arrangements for someone to pick them up and plan to stay with them for a few days to help with every day activities. Making sure the patient has the time for this procedure is very important as there will be a period of downtime required afterward. Smoking is prohibited for two weeks prior the tissue expansion surgery and for weeks after the second surgery is completed. A prescription for antibiotics will also be prescribed to prevent infections.
Dr. Bentkover has extensive experience in both cosmetic and reconstructive surgery. For over thirty years, Dr. Bentkover has been conducting skin rejuvenation procedures and he was among the first doctors to start practicing with the different laser procedures. As many patients know, Dr. Bentkover is committed to pleasing his patients and providing them with the very best.