Tissue expansion is a surgical option that has to be considered by the facial plastic surgeon when confronted with skin defects of the head and neck. This modality is now categorized with local flaps, distant pedicle flaps, free flaps, and skin grafts as a proven and efficacious reconstructive surgical technique.
Tissue expansion is the stretching of skin adjacent to a defect by the implantation of Silastic balloons that are gradually filled over a period of weeks or months (chronic tissue expansion), or at the time of the initial surgery (acute or intraoperative tissue expansion). The expanded tissue usually has characteristics that match the missing skin.
At the Fifth International Symposium of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery of the Head and Neck, sponsored by the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery in Toronto (June 25 through 29, 1989), a number of scientific papers, discussions, and courses on tissue expansion were presented.