Plastic Surgery 101

Alloderm is just one gift of many from organ donors

Q. I recently had a mastectomy and had a tissue expander placed in my chest so that I could have reconstructive surgery. My surgeon said that he used Alloderm when he put the tissue expander in so that it would support my skin and it would make it easier to get a better result. My question: What is Alloderm and is it safe?

Alloderm 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. This collagen matrix forms a support system in which your own cells and blood vessels fill in the area, making it stronger for reconstructive surgery.

Alloderm may also be used when a “breast bottoms out” and the surgeon needs some support in the bottom of the breast so that the implant does not come out. There are many other uses of Alloderm throughout the body; it is a safe, effective treatment.

It is interesting to note that because someone allowed their skin to be harvested, other patients benefitted from it. There are many other tissues that are used for the benefit of patients that are donated by organ donors.

Donors save people’s vision, improve the results of orthopedic and neuro-surgery and many other surgeries that help improve the quality of human life.

On a recent trip to visit my daughter, who is a surgical-trauma intensive care nurse at the University of Virginia, she made me aware of the need to become an organ donor. She often deals with patients who have essentially died but have a lot to give to other patients if they had been organ donors.

Therefore, I’m encouraging and challenging everyone who reads my column to become an organ donor. Go to and sign up. It is very easy to become an organ donor. A body is a terrible thing to waste.

Dr. Carlos Wolf is a partner at Miami Plastic Surgery. Email your questions to:

Read more Health stories from the Miami Herald

  • Ask Nancy

    How to find a doctor who makes house calls

    Q. My mom is 82. Her mobility has become limited in the past year, and it has become difficult to take her to appointments with her doctor, who doesn't make house calls. Do you have a list of physicians who specialize in geriatric care and that make house calls? Perhaps you have other suggestions?

  • chew on this

    Chew on this: Thank bees for sweet, golden, healthful honey

    Honey, golden and sweet, is a remarkable product.

  • Skin Deep

    FDA warns about not using Expression as a filler

    It never ceases to amaze me how some people can take injections so lightly. Yes, they are cosmetic and non-invasive, but these treatments require the training and skill only an experienced dermatologist, plastic surgeon, facial plastic surgeon or oculoplastic surgeon possess. Every week I have at least one patient that comes to me to correct filler injected by an inexperienced or inartistic doctor.

Miami Herald

Join the

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category