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Tissue Expansion

Tissue expansion is a versatile reconstructive surgical technique that can be used when patients lack the necessary tissue for their reconstructive needs. Tissue expansion can be used for various reconstructive surgeries, but the most common application is for post-mastectomy breast reconstruction.

At his Northern Mississippi plastic surgery office, board certified plastic surgeon Dr. Dan Shell routinely performs reconstructive surgeries using tissue expansion. Through tissue expansion, Dr. Shell can replace lost tissue and restore your natural appearance.


Almost anyone in need of additional tissue may be a potential candidate for tissue expansion. Tissue expansion is used in various surgical procedures, such as:

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

Tissue expansion can be performed on people of all ages and skin types, but, in order to be successful, it requires healthy skin that is not severely damaged or scarred. Ideal candidates should also possess good overall physical and emotional health. During your consultation with Dr. Shell, he will determine if tissue expansion is the best reconstructive option for you.


There are numerous factors to consider before committing to any reconstructive procedure. Below is a list of frequently asked questions associated with tissue expansion:

  • How does tissue expansion work?

    Tissue expansion is typically completed in one to two hours and requires a general anesthesia. A balloon-like expander composed of a silicone shell will be inserted into a pocket beneath your skin. The silicone expander will be gradually filled with saline (saltwater), stretching the overlying skin. Incisions will be closed and the expander will remain, along with a fill valve beneath your skin. Once the skin is sufficiently stretched, a follow-up procedure will be necessary to place the newly stretched skin over the affected skin area.

  • What happens during the recovery process?

    Following your tissue expansion procedure, it is common to experience some tightness and discomfort in the treated area. Dr. Shell may prescribe medication to manage your pain. Recovery times will vary depending on the extent of your procedure. The final results of tissue expansion can significantly improve the appearance of your skin and your quality of life, but it is important to keep in mind that the results will never be perfect.

  • What are some of the advantages of tissue expansion?

    Tissue expansion can be used to treat almost any part of the body following most types of injury. Because tissue expansion allows your body to “grow” extra skin, it offers a near-perfect match of skin color, texture and sensation. There is also a reduced risk of tissue loss because the skin continues to remain attached to its blood supply. Additionally, scars resulting from tissue expansion are less significant than other reconstructive methods.

  • Are there any risks associated with tissue expansion?

    All surgical procedures present some degree of risk and uncertainty. While complications are rare with tissue expansion, it is important for you to be aware of the risks. Dr. Shell and his staff will be available to discuss these risks with you in detail. Some risks and complications may include infection, scarring, skin discoloration, hematoma, tissue death, poor wound healing and blood clots.

  • Why should I choose Dr. Shell for tissue expansion?

    During your consultation, Dr. Shell will listen carefully to your concerns, ensuring that all treatments are customized to meet your goals. His practice uses the latest technology in a comfortable and confidential setting. Dr. Shell is certified by The American Board of Plastic Surgery and The American Board of Surgery. He is also a member of The American Society of Plastic Surgeons and a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons.


Board certified plastic surgeon Dr. Dan Shell performs tissue expansion in Oxford, MS. Email us or contact our offices at 662-236-6465 and one of our staff members will be happy to set you up with a consultation for tissue expansion.