Tissue expanders play an important role in breast reconstruction. They gradually stretch the breast skin and chest wall muscles to make room for breast implants or tissue flaps. Expanders can also be placed to preserve space within the breast wall when reconstruction is delayed. These medical devices support optimal results — but they can also be uncomfortable at times.
Why Tissue Expanders Cause Pain
Most of the discomfort occurs during your tissue expansion appointments. Our surgeons will inject saline into your tissue expanders over the course of several months to stretch the surrounding tissues. This can be unpleasant because it puts pressure on your muscles.
Fortunately, the pain you feel during your fills should subside within a few days. If it does not improve or gets worse, please contact our office. We may deflate your expanders slightly.
It is also worth noting that tissue expanders are harder and less flexible than breast implants.
Living with Tissue Expanders
Tissue expanders are not meant to stay in place forever. You will need to schedule a follow-up procedure to remove them. You can replace tissue expanders with implants or tissue flaps.
There are things you can do to feel more comfortable during the time that you have tissue expanders. Here are some suggestions from our Lone Tree reconstructive surgeons:
- Steer clear of strength-training exercises designed to target your chest muscles.
- Avoid activities that cause excessive breast movement, such as running and jumping.
- Choose soft and supportive bras without underwires. You can also wear breast forms.
- Avoid tops that are tight or rub against your breasts.
- Apply a cold gel pack wrapped in cloth for up to 20 minutes. You should not do this if your skin is sensitive from radiation therapy. Ask our surgeons if you are unsure.
- Try gentle and slow arm exercises to increase your range of motion gradually.
- Distract yourself with meditation, music therapy, guided imagery, and other techniques.
Schedule a Consultation Today
Our board-certified plastic and reconstructive surgeons can provide personalized recommendations for managing tissue expander pain. Call ( 303) -706-1100 to schedule a consultation. The Breast Center Park Meadows Cosmetic Surgery serves Denver, Lone Tree, and the surrounding areas of Colorado.