How is Alloderm Used During Breast Reconstruction?

How do medical products like Alloderm aid in breast reconstruction procedures?

Doctor Answers (30)

Breast Reconstruction with Alloderm and Implants

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Alloderm, or other similar products, are frequently used in breast reconstruction with expanders and implants. The expander or implant is placed below the muscle (pectoralis major). Themuscle only covers the top half of the implant. In the past, other muscles were also mobilized to cover the inferior portion of the implant or expander. In the present time, many surgeons use the Alloderm or similar acellular dermal matrix to cover the lower half of the implant. From El Paso, Las Cruces, Mexico.

Alloderm and breast reconstruction

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Alloderm, or any of the other biological products, has taken the place of the lower muscles that used to be integral to breast reconstruction with a tissue expander or implant. When undergoing breast reconstruction with a tissue expander, the expander is covered by your pectoralis major muscle. However, this only covers the top portion of the expander.

Ten years ago, the standard was to lift up some of your abdominal muscle and side muscles to cover the expander completely. Howeever, this has three problems. It was very painful after surgery, disrupted more of your natural anatomy, and did not allow the expander to really create a nice inframammary fold.

The Alloderm has taken the place of these muscles. It allows the expander to really sit where it is placed and create a nice fold, while not disrupting any other anatomy, and there is much less pain. The Alloderm gets incorporated into your own tissue by about 6 weeks, and becomes part of your natural tissue. The infection rate is extremely low, and there is no rejection of the material itself.

Acellular dermal matrix (alloderm)

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acellular dermal matrices are products that may be used as part tissue expander or implant-based breast reconstruction.  These products are sutured in place over the breast expander or implant and beneath the skin.  They may aid in maintaing the inframammary crease of the breast and providing additional coverage over the implant 

Loren Schechter, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
3.0 out of 5 stars 1 review

Role of Alloderm in Breast Reconstruction

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Alloderm is a materai dervied from processed human dermis, which the strong layer of the skin.  Alloderm is used to supplement the strength and thickness of the mastectomy skin flaps to allow for use of implants in cases where the breast implant might extrude, or displace by stretching out the mastectomy flap, or be more likely to form a capsular contracture particularly after radiation therapy. 

While Alloderm may help to reduce the chance of those problems, I prefer to use the patients own tissues for breast reconstruction.

These techniques include TRAM flaps, TRAM free flaps, and DIEP perforator flaps.  For more information on these and other breast reconstruction options see 


Fredrick A. Valauri, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon

"The first use of alloderm in the breast"

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This procedure of using Alloderm for breast surgery was first utilized by me in 2010.The idea was to extend the pectoralis muscle and avoid expanders. Since that time we have performed this procedure on more than 800 breasts with only a small incidence of complications and the procedure has now become the "gold standard " for breast reconstruction.

C. Andrew Salzberg, MD
Westchester Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 37 reviews

How Alloderm has helped in reconstruction

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As you have read from other plastic surgeons, Alloderm is processed human tissue devoid of cells including immune markers which has greatly improved the quality, predictabilty and options in breast reconstruction. It can provide for a more predictable placement of an implant or expander in am immediate reconstruction as well as increased tissue thickness.  It also allows for more precision in the creation/preservation of the fold at the lower part of the breast.

Studies have also shown that it can lower the risk/extent of capsular contracture around the implant even in irradiated tissue which is great news for many.

Steven Turkeltaub, MD
Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 22 reviews


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Alloderm is cadavaric skin that is treated and used as a biologic to reinforce the soft tissue coverage of the lower pole and protect the expander from exposure.

Steven Wallach, MD
Manhattan Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 18 reviews

Dermal matrix in breast reconstruction

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Alloderm(TM) and other dermal matrix products have increasingly become the norm in tissue expander/implant reconstruction. The basic concept is that dermal matrices have no living cells anymore, but have a scaffolding, template of collagen and other structural molecules that allow your own tissue to grow along the scaffold.

Historically, when expanders/implants were used in breast reconstruction for mastectomy patients, the surgeon would lift up portions of other muscles, like the serratus anterior muscle along the outer aspect of the lower breast, to help provide complete muscle coverage over the device, since the pectorlais major muscle would typically only cover the upper 2/3 to 3/4 of the device. Remember that when a mastectomy is done, the patient no longer has as much tissue to cover the lower pole of the implant compared to a patient undergoing straightforward breast augmentation.

Now, with the advent of matrix materials, the matrix can be sewn to the lower edge of the pectoralis major muscle and the other chest wall muscles do not need to be violated. This may result in less pain, and may allow the expander/implant to sit more naturally in the lower pole of the breast. It may also allow more rapid expansion. Think of the matrix as extending the reach of the muscle, although it does not actually turn into muscle. Some products, like Alloderm (TM), are fairly "stretchy", allowing them to facilitate expansion of the breast without tightening up too much.

Dermal matrices of a less stretchy nature can also be used in the abdominal wall during TRAM flaps to reconstruct the defect in the strength layer (fascia) of the abdomen, to avoid a synthetic mesh.

There are many sources of dermal matrix, including human-, porcine- and bovine-derived products. Surgeons vary in their adoption and preferences of these products.

Tim A. Sayed, MD, FACS
Palm Beach Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 14 reviews

AlloDerm in Breast Reconstruction

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AlloDerm is utilized to facilitate one-stage and two-stage implant reconstruction after mastectomy.  AlloDerm is essentially a collagen matrix (or a sheet of collagen) that is derived from a human source.   It is used to create a retaining envelope for your implant.  Compared to traditional total muscle coverage techniques, many believe AlloDerm use decreases postoperative discomfort and significantly improves the cosmetic results of implant-based reconstruction.  

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.