Medications are given for your comfort during the surgical procedure. Often, general anesthesia is given so that you will be asleep throughout the procedure. However, tissue expansion may also be performed using a combination of local anesthesia and intravenous sedation. Your surgeon will recommend the best choice for you.
2. Incisions Are Made
Your surgeon makes a small incision next to the defect, taking care to make the incision as inconspicuous as possible.
3. Expander Is Inserted (and Partially Filled)
Your surgeon inserts the silicone-shelled expander (also called a balloon) into a pocket he or she has created under the skin. Left just beneath the surface of the skin is a tiny tube and a self-sealing valve through which a small amount of saline is injected to begin the expansion process.
4. Incisions Are Closed
Incisions are closed with sutures, leaving just enough of an opening to allow for future saline injections. Incisions are usually given additional support with surgical tape and skin adhesive (tissue glue).
5. Expansion Process Continues
After the incision is healed, you will return periodically to your surgeon's office for additional saline injections to enlarge the expander, further stretching the skin. This procedure (and the resultant stretching of the skin) can cause minor discomfort for some patients.
6. Expander is Removed and Skin is Repositioned
When there is sufficient expanded skin to cover the defect, your surgeon will perform a second surgery to remove the expander and complete your reconstruction. The new tissue created by the expansion process will be repositioned over the area needing repair and sutured in place. This procedure is relatively brief in breast reconstruction. Facial and scalp reconstruction are usually more complex and time-consuming, and may require multiple procedures to complete (possibly including a repeat of the expansion process).
This information provided for educational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. For medical questions, Consult a physician.
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