What is Tissue expansion?

Tissue expansion is the creation of more skin by inserting a balloon (expander) underneath the skin and slowly inflating it by injecting it with saline-water or air. It is a useful technique for the removal of large birthmarks, moles or bald areas of scalp skin.

What are the non-surgical and surgical options available?

There are no non-surgical options for tissue expansion. The surgical process is usually part of a two staged procedure of reconstruction. The first stage is when the expanders are placed underneath the skin. This is followed by a period of consolidation and slow inflation. The second stage is when the problematic area is cut out and the new expanded skin used to close the resultant hole. The operations are performed under general anaesthetic and are separated by a number of weeks to allow for the tissue to expand sufficiently.

How long do the results last for?

The temporary expansion lasts 6-8 weeks whilst the final reconstruction lasts for life.

What are the risks?

The most important risks involve infection of the expander and/or its extrusion through the skin. This is carefully monitored on a weekly basis in the clinic and any problem may necessitate earlier removal of the expander. If the second stage is performed prior to full expansion, often there is not enough skin to complete the second stage manoeuvre and the process needs repeating or an additional third stage performed.

What are the success rates?

Very good. The technique, the range of expanders and the device-technology have evolved allowing their use in new situations.

How much does the surgery cost?

The indicative prices below include the surgical fee, any anaesthetic used and the associated fees from the consultant administering this, in addition to the hospital fee and all tests and follow up. An accurate breakdown and a detailed quote will be given following the initial consultation.

From £5,000 for two stages

What general advice is there?

It is important to take a course of antibiotics to prevent against infection and to watch closely for signs of complications.