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imageBackground: Prosthetic reconstruction of the breast, as a 2-staged procedure using tissue expanders followed by placement of permanent implants, offers favorable aesthetic results with minimal additional surgical intervention. However, the current outpatient process to fill saline expanders can be lengthy and onerous, involving months of office visits and discomfort from the bolus saline expansions. We present a new technology (AeroForm Tissue Expansion System), which has the potential to improve the process of breast tissue expansion by providing a method for low-volume incremental filling, eliminating the need for injections and directly involving the patient by allowing her some control over the expansion process.
Methods: The described study is a 2:1 randomized controlled trial of the investigational CO2 expansion system and saline expanders. Of the 82 women receiving expanders, 58 (39 bilateral and 19 unilateral; bilateral rate, 67%) were implanted with CO2 tissue expanders and 24 subjects (15 bilateral and 9 unilateral; bilateral rate, 63%) were implanted with saline expanders.
Results: Preliminary validated expansion results were available for 55 women. Available mean time for active expansion in the CO2 group was 18.2 (9.2) days (median, 14.0; range, 5–39; number of expanders, 53), which was less than the mean time for active expansion in the saline group: 57.4 (33.6) days (median, 55; range, 5–137; number of expanders, 33). Available mean time from implant placement to exchange for a permanent prosthesis in the CO2 group was shorter [106.3 (42.9) days; median, 99; range, 42–237; number of expanders, 53] than for the women in the control group [151.7 (62.6) days; median, 140; range, 69–433; number of expanders, 33]. After 2 events—underexpansion (n = 1) and erosion (n = 1)—in the CO2 group, the internal membrane was redesigned and the expander bulk was decreased to minimize the risk of underexpansion and erosion in subsequent patients.
Conclusions: Preliminary evidence indicates that the CO2-based tissue expansion system performs the same function as saline expansion devices without significantly altering the risk to the patient and that the device has the potential to make the expansion process faster and more convenient for both the patient and the physician.

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