What Are Tissue Expanders?

Closeup,Cropped,Portrait,Young,Woman,With,Breast,Pain,Touching,Chest Tissue expanders help reconstruct a breast after a mastectomy. Your surgeon can place it during or after the mastectomy. Tissue expanders are empty implants with an access port. Your doctor adds liquid or air to the tissue expander on a regular basis, often weekly, to stretch the muscle and skin so an implant can fit in the space. Over several weeks, the tissue expander fills enough to be the size breast you want. Once that happens, then the rest of the breast reconstruction process, including inserting a breast implant, can begin.

How to Place the Tissue Expander

Your doctor can place your tissue expander under your pectoralis muscle, depending on what is best for your individual case. The doctor can insert it under the pectoralis muscle, in which case, the expander is filled with liquid. The muscle forms a barrier between the expander and your skin, which is fragile after a mastectomy.

Or your surgeon can also place the tissue expander over your pectoralis muscle. They will also place a mesh around the expander to help support it. Your body will absorb the mesh, and the expander is usually filled with air instead of liquid. Since air is not as dense as water, it puts less pressure on the healing skin. After a couple of weeks, your surgeon may start filling the expander with liquid instead of air.

Recovering After Tissue Expander Placement

Your recovery process depends on whether you have the tissue expanders inserted during a mastectomy or later. After surgery, you may have an IV line for fluids, pain medication, and antibiotics. You will most likely have drains near each incision. You could have the drains for up to two weeks after surgery, depending on how fast you heal. Your doctor will tell you how to care for your drains once you go home.

You may have redness and tenderness, along with bruising around the incisions. The tissue expanders will not be filled or may be filled with very little fluid or air until you heal.

Comfort Between Tissue Expansions

It will take several tissue expansions until your skin and muscles are stretched enough to fit an implant in the size you want. After each expansion, you may feel fullness or tightness in your breast and may feel some back or shoulder discomfort, which usually gets better after a few days. To help alleviate soreness after an expansion, you can:

  • Take a warm shower—the warm water helps relax your muscles.
  • Take over-the-counter pain medication.
  • Use a moisturizer—fragrance-free—on your breast skin. Never apply the moisturizer to any incisions until they are completely healed, usually around six weeks.
  • Do the shoulder and arm exercises recommended by your doctor.
  • Wear bras that are soft and supportive and don’t have underwires.

Where to Find Tissue Expanders in Lone Tree, CO

The Breast Center – Park Meadows Cosmetic Surgery serves Lone Tree and the surrounding areas in Colorado. To find out more about tissue expanders, speak with a surgeon at The Breast Center – Park Meadows Cosmetic Surgery. To schedule a consultation, please call 303-706-1100 or text 303-622-5587.

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