I recently had a mastectomy and had a tissue expander placed in my chest in preparation for reconstructive surgery. My surgeon said he used AlloDerm to support my skin and improve the chances of a good result. What is AlloDerm, and is it safe?
AlloDerm is a safe and effective treatment. It is a collagen matrix that does not have live cells. Cadaver skin is harvested and treated in such a way as to remove all live cells present. This collagen matrix then is used to form a support system, whereby your own cells and blood vessels fill in the area making it stronger in preparation for reconstructive surgery.
AlloDerm may also be used when a breast “bottoms out” and the surgeon needs some support so the implant does not come out.
There are many other uses of AlloDerm. In fact, it is used throughout the body. It is interesting to note that because someone allowed their skin to be harvested, other patients benefit. There are many other tissues donated by organ donors that benefit patients. Donors can save a patient’s vision, improve the results of orthopedic and neurosurgery, improve the quality of human life and ultimately – save a life. On a recent trip to visit my daughter, who is a surgical-trauma intensive care nurse at UVA in Virginia, she reminded me how important it is to become an organ donor. She often treats patients who essentially die, but have so much to give other patients if they are organ donors.
Therefore, I’m encouraging and challenging everyone who reads my column to become an organ donor. I did! Go to <www.organdonor. gov> and they will make it very easy for you to become an organ donor. A body is a terrible thing to waste.
Dr. Wolf’s offices are located at 8940 N. Kendall Dr., Suite 903E and at 221 Aragon Ave in Coral Gables. He may be reached at 305- 595-2969 or at <www.miamiplasticsurgery. com>.