Tissue expansion

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Tissue expansion is a technique used by plastic, maxillofacial, and reconstructive surgeons to cause the body to grow additional skin, bone, or other tissues. Other biological phenomena such as tissue inflammation can also be considered expansion.

Skin expansion

Skin expansion is a common surgical procedure to grow extra skin through controlled mechanical overstretch. It creates skin that matches the color, texture, and thickness of the surrounding tissue, while minimizing scars and risk of rejection.

When skin is stretched beyond its physiological limit, mechanotransduction pathways are activated. This leads to cell growth as well as to the formation of new cells.

The growth of tissue is permanent, but will contract to some degree when the tension is removed.

Mechanics of skin expansion

Stretching the skin beyond normal expansion invokes several mechanotransduction pathways which increase mitotic activity and promote collagen synthesis. As a result, the skin surface area increases.[1]

Relief of phimosis or tight foreskin

Tissue expansion by manual stretching effectively widens the foreskin to treat phimosis or paraphimosis.[2] [3] One should continue to stretch until one's foreskin glides smoothly back and forth. This works best when topical steroid ointment (available by prescription) is used along with the stretching.

Foreskin restoration

Tissue expansion has also been used for the technique of non-surgical foreskin restoration, which applies tension externally using specialized devices and/or manual stretching to replace circumcised tissues with newly expanded residual shaft skin.[4]

Non-surgical tissue expansion techniques can expand one's surviving penile skin, making it a longer tube so it can function like a foreskin.[5] Men who have been circumcised stretch and apply tension to their shaft and foreskin remnants to expand and elongate tissue in efforts to produce a functional foreskin. This form of tissue expansion can take years, as the amount of skin growth required is typically around 15 square inches.[6] This process does not regenerate or restore the function of the frenulum or the ridged band. It does, however, typically involve growing more shaft skin and preputial mucosa, which serves to moisten and protect the glans. Men who have restored their foreskin typically notice increased sensitivity and dekeratinization of the glans.[7]

Excessive circumcision

Men who have been circumcised sometimes report that there is not enough skin left to allow full erection of the penis, so the penis is shorter than before circumcision. They may also experience tight, painful erections. In such cases, tissue expansion may help to get full length and relieve pain during erection.

Short natural foreskins

Men who have a short natural foreskin may use tissue expansion to lengthen their foreskin. It frequently results in improved appearance as well as increased comfort and sensation with improved gliding action.

See also

External links


  1. REFjournal Zöllner, Alexander M. / A.B. Tepole / E. Kuhl (2012): On the biomechanics and mechanobiology of growing skin, in: Theoretical Biology. 297: 166-75, PMID, PMC, DOI. Retrieved 10 October 2019.
  2. REFjournal Dunn, HP (1989): [1], in: Aust N Z J Surg. 59 (12): 1963, PMID, DOI. Retrieved 7 November 2019.
  3. REFjournal Beaugé, M. (1997): The causes of adolescent phimosis, in: Br J Sex Med (Sept/Oct): 26. Retrieved 18 October 2019.
  4. REFjournal Radovan, C. (1984): Tissue expansion in soft-tissue reconstruction, in: Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. 74 (4), PMID, DOI. Retrieved 10 October 2019.
  5. REFjournal Collier, Roger (2011): Whole again: the practice of foreskin restoration, in: CMAJ. 183 (18): 2092-3, PMID, PMC, DOI.
  6. REFweb Hammond, T (28 February 2012). Not a "Snip," But 15 Square Inches, NOHARMM. Retrieved 10 October 2019.
  7. REFweb (17 August 2013). Foreskin restoration for circumcised men, Circumcision Information and Resource Pages. Retrieved 10 October 2019.