Tissue Expansion: Cost, Risks, Recovery


Tissue expansion is a surgical procedure that helps the body to grow extra skin for the use in reconstructive surgeries. It is widely used, particularly in the fields of breast reconstruction, burn surgery, and pediatric plastic surgery, and certain cosmetic procedures. Tissue expansion surgery has revolutionized cosmetic surgeries.


A good candidate for tissue expansion includes:

  • Need to repair or replace areas of the scalp
  • No enough skin to accommodate a permanent implant to restore a woman’s natural appearance
  • Have healthy skin


Like any other major surgery, tissue expansion surgery has two common risks: infection and excessive bleeding. But there is one particular risk of tissue expansion surgery—an obvious bulge in the surface of the skin. This bulge is created by the expander when additional skin grows on the treated area. However, skin growth requires quite a long time—usually three to four months. Such a long time for patients to wait for desirable results might bring inconvenience to patients.


The cost of a tissue expansion surgery varies greatly in the U.S. It hinges upon multiple factors, such as geographic locations, the severity of scars, the complexity of surgery, the number of specific procedures involved, and the skill of responsible surgeons.

Therefore, remember to ask your surgeon in advance how much money is needed totally for the surgery, what items are included in the costs, and whether the surgery is covered by health insurance.


Before taking a tissue expansion surgery, you should pay attention to these points:

  • Follow your surgeon’s specific instructions on daily diet
  • Quit smoking for at least 2 weeks before and after your surgery
  • Avoid taking certain medicines
  • Ask someone to drive you home after your surgery, and help you out of inconvenience afterwards

How it is done

  • First, your surgeon may use local anesthesia combined with a sedative for your comfort through the entire surgery.
  • Next, your surgeon will make a small and unnoticeable incision next to the area of skin to be repaired. In this step, a pocket is created beneath the skin.
  • Then, your surgeon will insert the silicone balloon expander in the pocket. With a self-sealing valve in this expander, the surgeon is able to fill the expander with saline solution.
  • In your follow-up visits, your surgeon will continue to inject additional saline to the expander. This will help the expander grow and your skin stretch.
  • As time goes by, your new skin will grow to an ideal size. At this time, your surgeon may consider taking another surgery to remove the expander and redistribute the new tissue.


A tissue expansion surgery needs one surgery to place the tissue expander, and another to remove and replace it with final silicone or saline implant. While the expander is growing, you may feel uncomfortable. Your surgeon may prescribe pain medications, a muscle relaxer, antibiotics and other medications to alleviate your pain. Lifting heavy stuffs or taking intense sports before you’ve obtained a full recovery will worsen your wound. It is best for you to avoid any strenuous activity for four to six weeks after surgery.

Key words: tissue expansion.

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* The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.