Where Does Donor Tissue Come From for Plastic Surgery?

After coming across an article on MMA fighters getting tissue implants from donors, I'm curious to know where the cadavers come from? Are they from any deceased organ donor? How about the tissue used to create a tissue matrix like AlloDerm? Hoping to shine some light in reference to a RealSelf blog post.

Doctor Answers 3

Alloderm source

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Alloderm is a tissue matrix from allogenic dermis. This means it comes from the dermis of someone other than the recipient.  Alloderm is derived from cadaveric skin.  It is harvested with a dermaplaner and stripped of antigenic proteins via a proprietary process.  This means the company uses methods to remove donor cells and potential pathogens from the material.  This material is indeed gained from deceased individuals.  I am not certain where the cadavers originate from, but I am certain that either the donor or a family member has given permission to use this tissue.  The skin is an considered an organ so am assuming this material is from organ donors. 

San Diego Plastic Surgeon

Where does AlloDerm come from?

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AlloDerm comes from human cadavers.  It is the dermal tissue with all cells removed, so it's non-antigenic.  It is harvested by hand now, I believe, to allow for larger grafts to be produced (it used to be harvested by dermatome). 

There are other types of dermal matrices available, such as Strattice (also made by LifeCell, the company that makes AlloDerm).  Strattice comes from a porcine source (pig skin).  Surgimend (TEI Biosciences) comes from a bovine source (cow skin).  There is another one that comes from porcine small intestinal mucosa (pig intestine)--Surgisis (Cook Medical).  There are others, too, but I think I've listed all the sources (human, pig, cow).

Carmen Kavali, MD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 46 reviews


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Alloderm is a dermal matirx that comes from cadaver skin. This is then treated to remove any pathogens.

Steven Wallach, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.2 out of 5 stars 30 reviews

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