In this paper, the subject of surface-area gain in tissue expansion is approached from three sides. With the help of a mathematical approach, the theoretical increase in surface area was calculated in relation to the specifications of the expanders. In an in vitro model, these mathematical data were confirmed to be reliable. To determine the real surface-area gain that takes place in vivo, measurements on pigs were performed. It appears that only about 35 percent of the mathematically expected increase in surface area takes place. Moreover, a clear difference was observed between the surface-area gain for the different shapes of tissue expanders.
Some system to convert tissue expander volume to surface area is needed so the surgeon can select the proper size expander for specific needs.
(C)1988American Society of Plastic Surgeons