New Tissue Expander Technology Facilitates Atlanta Breast Reconstruction Surgery

Breast Reconstruction SurgeryThe highly skilled surgeons of Atlanta Plastic Surgery see a variety of breast surgery patients. Performing both cosmetic and reconstructive breast procedures, our plastic surgeons make sure to individually address the diverse needs required by both types of breast surgery.  In order to offer Atlanta patients the most advanced plastic surgery technology, our surgeons participate in events like the Atlanta Breast Surgery Symposium and use our practice-wide blog to educate patients. The most recent advancement in the world of breast surgery from the University of Oxford is a hydrogel self-inflating tissue expander to facilitate breast reconstruction surgery.

Unfortunately, the breast tissue often changes after breast cancer patients undergo mastectomy surgery, becoming much tighter and harder to mold. During breast reconstruction using a breast implant, tissue expanders are often used to stretch the skin prior to surgery and make room for the implant. Until now, breast reconstruction required multiple surgeries to accommodate the gradual nature of traditional tissue expansion.  Now, this intelligent, self-inflating tissue expander, which can be shaped by a plastic surgeon before insertion, allows surgeons to precisely control the direction, timing, and rate of the device’s expansion within the breast cavity.

Cosmetic breast surgery patients don’t typically face the need for mechanical tissue expansion. Even during a breast augmentation (breast enhancement) in which a patient chooses a dramatically larger breast size, the elasticity of most natural breast tissue allows room for the implant without the need for a tissue expander. Likewise, cosmetic patients in need of breast reduction surgery or breast lift usually need excess tissue removed, not expanded. The goal of this new technology is to minimize the risk of soft tissue damage and complications, easing the surgical process for reconstructive surgery patients.

The aforementioned goal has been on the minds of many plastic surgeons for a long time. In fact, Atlanta Plastic Surgery’s own Dr. Carl Hartrampf, Jr. developed one of the most commonly used breast reconstruction types, the TRAM flap procedure (transverse rectus abdominis muscle flap), for that same reason. Similar to the latissimus dorsi flap procedure, which uses tissue taken from a patient’s back, the TRAM flap procedure uses tissue from the abdomen to shape the new breast. Furthermore, advancements like oncoplastic breast reconstruction, which combines cancer removal surgery with reconstructive breast surgery to reduce the number of reconstructive procedures necessary, make the process easier for breast cancer patients.

The new hydrogel self-inflating tissue expander shows promise for other reconstructive procedures as well. Sometimes, when treating congenital craniofacial disorders, our surgeons must use tissue expanders to gradually stretch the skin during facial reconstruction. These innovative tissue expanders may also assist reconstructive surgery for trauma victims with extensive scars or burns.

Atlanta Plastic Surgery knows the importance of patient education and hopes patients use our practice-wide blog as a learning outlet. Be sure to check out the rest of our website to learn about the other plastic surgery procedures our Atlanta plastic surgeons perform.