What Are Tissue Expanders?

What Are Tissue Expanders?

Breast reconstruction is essentially a surgical procedure that is done to restore the shape of your breasts. Typically, this is done after the patient has undergone a mastectomy, a breast-removal surgery that is performed while treating breast cancer or in some cases to prevent breast cancer.

The breast-reconstruction process may be done during your mastectomy (immediate reconstruction), or it can be done on a later date (delayed reconstruction). Usually, this process requires multiple visits to Dr. Pazmiño.

Breast-reconstruction surgery usually involves both breast implants and tissue expanders. A breast implant is a silicone shell filled with silicone gel or saline solution as per your preference.

While breast implants are quite well known, most people have never heard of tissue expanders. In this blog, you’ll find out more about these prosthetic devices and their use in breast reconstruction.
 

Tissue Expanders

A tissue expander is a balloon-like device that works like an inflatable temporary breast implant. It is used to carefully stretch and expand the soft tissues and skin of your chest over time. This is needed in order to allow room for placement of the breast implants.

When implanting the tissue expander, Dr. Pazmiño may place it under your pectoral muscle. This is mostly done during the mastectomy itself. You will have to be hospitalized overnight.

Over the next several visits, Dr. Pazmiño will slowly inject saline solution into the tissue expander to fill it up. This will be done using a small valve-like mechanism located inside the tissue expander.

The tissue expander will be filled up in stages over the course of a few weeks to a few months. This steady process allows your skin to stretch gently over time. Most women feel a sensation of pressure in the breast area during this inflating procedure. However, while it is uncomfortable, it is not painful and is easily bearable.

This process starts around a month or so after your mastectomy has been done. Your skin needs to heal completely, and the drains from the mastectomy have to be removed. This inflation is done until your chest reaches the required size. Once Dr. Pazmiño feels that your chest skin has stretched enough, he will stop inflating the tissue expander.

Another surgery will then be conducted wherein Dr. Pazmiño removes the tissue expander from your breast. This is usually replaced with a permanent implant. The surgery is typically scheduled about four to six weeks after your last inflation session. The nipple and areola will be reconstructed in subsequent procedures.

You will be able to resume your normal routine after about two months from the date of your breast-reconstruction surgery. In the interim, it is recommended that you take it easy and carefully follow Dr. Pazmiño’s post-operative care instructions.
 

Arranging A Consultation

Before you opt for breast reconstruction, you will need to have a detailed consultation with Dr. Pat Pazmiño, a skilled board-certified plastic surgeon, so that you will know what to expect. He will explain the procedure in detail and help clarify any questions you may have. Schedule your consultation – contact us today.