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Garrett Wirth, MD, MS, FACS is a skilled plastic surgeon in Newport Beach, California, specializing in reconstructive techniques such as tissue expansion.

Who is a Candidate for Tissue Expansion?

Almost anyone in need of additional skin may benefit from tissue expansion. Tissue expansion is often used for procedures such as:

  • Breast reconstruction
  • Corrective surgery for birth defects
  • Reconstructive surgery following a traumatic injury

Tissue expansion requires healthy skin around the area to be reconstructed so that the significantly damaged or scarred tissue can be removed and the “new tissue” can be put in its place. The best candidates for tissue expansion will possess good overall physical and mental health.

How Does Tissue Expansion Work?

Tissue expansion is typically performed in 1-2 hours and requires general anesthesia. During surgery, Dr. Wirth will insert an inflatable balloon device underneath the tissue in a pocket created for the expander. The device will then be gradually filled with saline in order to stretch the overlying skin. Dr. Wirth will then suture all incisions, leaving the device to gradually expand beneath your skin with weekly office visits.

As the skin begins to stretch beyond its physiological limit, new cell growth is activated and the formation of new cells will begin. Several follow-up visits will be required in the weeks that follow your procedure until the skin is adequately stretched. After this point, you will be able to move forward in the reconstructive process.

What Happens After Tissue Expansion?

Our Orange County team will provide you with specific postoperative care instructions during your recovery. It is likely that you will experience some immediate discomfort and tightness of the skin following your tissue expansion procedure. Discomfort usually subsides within a few hours. Dr. Wirth may provide you with pain medication to minimize discomfort.

Recovery times vary depending upon the extent of your procedure. If the tissue expansion is separate from breast removal, in most cases you will be able to return to work and social activity within 3-4 days. Generally, the results of tissue expansion are excellent. It is important to keep in mind that while tissue expansion can dramatically improve your appearance and quality of life, you should not expect perfection.

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