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Whole-face dermal expander

For burns victims
  [vote for,

Reconstructive surgeons often use a dermal expander where they need to obtain large amounts of skin for a graft (eg for a facial burns victim). The expander is basically a balloon which is placed under healthy skin (for instance on the back or chest) and inflated with saline over a period of weeks. The skin stretches and grows as the balloon inflates. When it's ready, the surgeon removes the balloon and surplus skin (which is used as a graft), and closes the hole where the balloon was.

This has been found to work much better - where large areas of full-thickness skin are needed - than the alternative of piecing together multiple smaller grafts taken from many parts of the body.

However, even a large graft from a dermal expander must be cut and stitched to fit the contours of the face, rather like making a mask out of paper.

Buchanan Medical and Bookbinding, Inc (a wholly-owned subsidiary of Buchanan Health Care) introduces the Whole Face Dermal Expander.

The WFDE starts out as a mask of semi- rigid silicone rubber, shaped to resemble the burn-victim's original face as closely as possible. A second layer of thinner silicone is attached to the back of the mask, forming a sort of balloon-with-a- face.

This structure is inserted under the skin on the back (or chest) - if necessary, a previous normal dermal expander can be used to make room for it. Then, over a few weeks, the balloon is inflated, stretching the skin over the "face" and lifting the "face" away from the body.

Finally, the newly-formed face is removed like any normal dermal expansion, and the wound is closed. The mask-shaped skin graft is now ideally shaped for the basis of facial reconstuction.

MaxwellBuchanan, Mar 04 2008


       The issue with massive facial skin grafts is the loss of expression due to the fact that connective tissue no longer attaches the surface of the face to the underlying muscles. This lends the patient a frightening plastic appearance. Replacing all the skin on the face at the same time would amplify this effect. Doing one area at a time, chin, nose, etc. would make more sense. It's a good idea.
WcW, Mar 05 2008

       Excellent idea. The curvature of the buttock should facilitate this perfectly.
marklar, Mar 05 2008

       <makes 'third eye' joke>
hippo, Mar 05 2008

       Last time I checked we were growing faces on the backs of rats which is hardly ideal, so a bun from me.
theleopard, Mar 05 2008

       Great idea, with horror-movie potential. Perhaps you could structure the inside of the balloon with an architecture of selectively inflatable cells. These could emulate facial movements, thus toning the skin for stretchability and flex in certain areas (ie around the jaw), whilst also providing a great way to break the ice at parties, in the interim. *singing* 'I've got you...under my skin'.
navel-gazer, Mar 05 2008

       //toning the skin for stretchability// That is a brilliant idea! I'm not sure how growing skin responds to flexing, but you'd expect this to work.
MaxwellBuchanan, Mar 05 2008

       Yeah this is very good.
globaltourniquet, Mar 05 2008

       I am *very* pleased that this is not, as I assumed from the title, an attempt at growing human bloodhounds.
lurch, Mar 05 2008


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