Tissue Expander Placement Caring for Your Child
What are tissue expanders?
Tissue expanders are used to stretch skin for
use in skin grafting or for other reasons that
your doctor will explain. This will increase
the amount of skin that can be used for the
graft. Healthy skin most like the area that
needs grafting is chosen for expansion.
The surgery is done in two steps. First,
silicone implants are placed under the skin.
The incision is only large enough to insert
the implant. The implants are slowly filled
with a salt solution (saline) over weeks or
months. This allows them to slowly expand
and stretch the skin. Second, surgery is
done to remove the implant and use the new
skin for grafting.
What to expect after surgery
• An intravenous line (IV) to supply fluids
and medicines to your child.
• A sore throat for a few days. This is
from the breathing tube used during
• A chance of nausea and vomiting from
• Narrow pieces of tape at the expander
site. They should fall off on their own in
about a week.
• Stitches to be removed in about 7-10
Once the anesthesia has worn off, your child
will have a little pain at the implant site.
Most of the time, this pain can be controlled
with acetaminophen (Tylenol ).
Try to have quiet time for the first day. This
will give your child a chance to recover
from the anesthesia. After the first day, your
child can do whatever he feels up to doing.
There aren’t any things that your child can’t
do while the expander is in place. Try to
avoid a sudden puncture to the site.
Your child’s first meal should be fairly light.
Your child may move to a normal diet when
ready. Give your child lots of liquids.
Your child may have a follow-up visit with
the doctor in 1-2 weeks. The doctor will
check the incision for healing. At this time,
the doctor may inflate the implant with
saline. The tissue stretches slowly, and the
pressure may be slightly uncomfortable.
Your child may feel better during this time if
you give him Tylenol or ibuprofen before
When to call your doctor or nurse
Call if you have any questions or concerns
about your child, or there are any problems.
• Bleeding from the incision
• Signs of infections (increased redness,
warmth or swelling at the incision site or
• Temperature over 100 θ F when taken
under the arm, over 101 θ F when taken
by mouth or in the ear, or 102 θ F when
taken by rectum
• Frequent vomiting
• Pain not controlled by medicine
AFCH Pediatric Specialty Clinic, weekdays 8:00 am to 5:00 pm:(608) 263-6420 option 4
After hours, nights, weekends, and holidays, this number will be answered by the paging
operator. Ask for the plastic surgery resident on call. Leave your name and phone number
with the area code. The doctor will call you back.
If outside the Madison area call 1-800-323-8942.
Your health care team may have given you this information as part of your care. If so, please use it and call if you
have any questions. If this information was not given to you as part of your care, please check with your doctor. This
is not medical advice. This is not to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Because each
person’s health needs are different, you should talk with your doctor or others on your health care team when using
this information. If you have an emergency, please call 911. Copyright © 11/2017 University of Wisconsin Hospitals
and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#5525