What are expanders after mastectomy?

Asked by: Helen Robertson  |  Last update: 18 June 2021
Score: 4.9/5 (60 votes)

After your mastectomy (surgery to remove your breast), you'll have a breast reconstruction surgery using a tissue expander. A tissue expander is an empty breast implant that your surgeon will fill with normal saline over about 6 to 8 weeks until it reaches the breast size that you and your surgeon decided on.

View full answer

Accordingly, Do breast expanders hurt?

Tissue expanders are temporary, expandable, balloon-like devices used after mastectomy to stretch breast skin and chest wall muscles so that the breast implants can be adequately accommodated. Because of the stretching involved, tissue expanders can be painful.

Keeping this in consideration, What does a tissue expander look like?. A tissue expander looks a lot like a breast implant, although it has a thicker outer shell than breast implants. There is a port on the front of the expander.

Similarly, What happens after mastectomy with expanders?

If an expander was placed, salt water (saline) or air was added to it to start stretching your skin. Right after the surgery, you will probably feel weak, and you may feel pain for 2 to 3 weeks. You may have a pulling or stretching feeling in your breast area.

Why are breast expanders so uncomfortable?

The tissue expansion process is done after mastectomies to increase the submuscular space in preparation for the placement of permanent breast implant. The process is often believed to be painful by patients who are often intimidated by the prospect of mechanically stretching out their skin and muscle.

15 related questions found

Do you wear a bra with tissue expanders?

You may shower on the 3rd day after your surgery. ... After 14 days you may remove the Surgical Bra and wear a “sports” type bra that will provide support and maintain the placement of the tissue expander. Please do not wear an underwire bra. Please wear a “sports” bra for 24 hours a day for 21 days.

How long can tissue expanders be left in?

A tissue expander is an empty breast implant that your surgeon will fill with normal saline over about 6 to 8 weeks until it reaches the breast size that you and your surgeon decided on.

Can you sleep on your side with tissue expanders?

After two weeks, you can continue sleeping on your back or begin sleeping on your side. Some women find that cradling a pillow makes side-sleeping more comfortable. Avoid sleeping on your stomach during the first four weeks.

Can you sleep on your side after mastectomy?

While it is possible to sleep on your side after breast surgery, it comes with some medical concerns that aren't worth the risk. Instead, most plastic surgeons recommend that patients who have had breast surgery sleep exclusively on their backs until they are fully healed.

Why do I need tissue expanders?

You may need a tissue expander: To help the skin stretch so it can adequately cover an implant because there may not be enough skin available after mastectomy. To stretch the skin to cover implants larger than your original breasts.

Can tissue expanders burst?

As with all surgical devices, breast tissue expanders come with certain risks, the most common being ruptures and leaks. Although a rupture is not considered a medical emergency, it requires an immediate response and, more often than not, surgical replacement of the device.

Do you have to have expanders after mastectomy?

Because all the breast skin is preserved during a skin-sparing mastectomy, it is not possible to use an expander (or an implant alone) after this procedure.

Can you keep your nipples if you have a mastectomy?

When treating breast cancer with a mastectomy, the nipple is typically removed along with the rest of the breast. (Some women might be able to have a nipple-sparing mastectomy, where the nipple is left in place.

Why do my expanders hurt?

There will be some discomfort at first, but there will not be a lot of pain. The expander may feel heavy in your mouth at first, since it is something new and different in there. When the palate expander is widened, you may feel some pressure in your mouth and on your tongue.

How bad does a mastectomy hurt?

You will probably feel a mixture of numbness and pain around the breast incision and the chest wall (and the armpit incision, if you had axillary dissection). If you feel the need, take pain medication according to your doctor's instructions. Learn more about managing chest pain, armpit discomfort, and general pain.

Can you have an MRI with breast expanders?

MRI can be considered in patients with breast tissue expanders when appropriate peri-procedural choices have been made so that the benefits of undergoing MRI outweigh the risks.

Are breast implants more comfortable than expanders?

After the permanent implant has been placed you will immediately feel more comfortable than when the expander was in place. The tightness will decrease quickly as the implant settles into the pocket.

When can you lay on your side after mastectomy?

You can begin to sleep on your side again two weeks after breast reconstruction surgery. However, stomach sleeping is still not permitted at the two-week mark. You must wait four weeks before you can sleep on your stomach. At this time, you are fine to sleep in any normal positions that you find comfortable.