A skin-stretching device that is designed to harness the viscoelastic properties of the skin using incremental traction is presented as an addition to the surgeon's armamentarium. It has proved to be of value in helping to close problematic areas of skin shortage which would otherwise have required more complicated procedures for their solution. It is simple in application and can even be put to use at the bedside.
It consists of two pins that are threaded through the dermis of the wound margins on either side of the defect and which are in turn engaged by the hooks of the stretching device. The stretching force on the skin margins is spread over a wide area, thus preventing damage to the skin itself that individual hooks applied to the skin might cause. The device is employed over a duration of 20 to 30 minutes to 1 to 3 days depending on the condition of the skin adjoining the defect. The device can be applied over three different periods of time: (1) preoperatively (presuturing), lasting 1 to 2 days, (2) intraoperatively, extending over a period of 20 to 30 minutes, and (3) postoperatively (or delayed), which takes place over a time span of hours to 1 to 3 days. Five illustrative cases are presented.