Is there a preferred waiting time after radiation, to replace expanders with the implants?
After Radiation - How Long to Wait Before Replacing Expanders w/ Implants?
Doctor Answers (7)
Exapnder and implant exchange
Usually I wait about 4-6 months to exchange a tissue expander for an implant after radiation treatment.
After radiation - How long to wait to replace breast tissue expanders with implants?
Usually I would wait a minimum of 3 to 6 months to replace breast tissue expanders with reconstructive breast implants, following mastectomy and radiation treatment. However this time frame may vary depending on the amount of radiation and how quickly and well the skin and underlying tissues heal.
Waiting time between radiation and replacement of tissue expanders
Typically I wait 6 weeks or until the majority of the erythema (redness) is gone in the overlying skin. Other surgeons have different formulas, but 6 weeks works well for me. Part of my rational is that contrary to what many surgeons believe, long-term radiation injury does not improve over time, it only gets worse. The initial, acute injury will improve (redness and swelling, occasional skin peeling), but the tightening of the tissue and the poor healing does not improve. Therefore, as soon as the acute changes are gone is the best time to operate on irradiated skin.
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No simple answer to timing for breast reconstruction after radiation
With radiation therapy, the tissue can become firm and lead to contracture around the implants, but it usually improves over time. This can be a couple of months or up to a year and your plastic surgeon can advise when things soften up enough to proceed. Many surgeons have found that the use of an acellular dermal matrix such as Alloderm can help overcome some of the effects of radiation. It may also be advantageous if the expanders are fully inflated before the radiation treatment is started.
Implant surgery post radiation
The literature is not all that clear on how long to wait post radiation before replacing expanders with implants. Most surgeons wait at least three months while some prefer to wait anywhere from 6 months to a year. The appearance and feel of the skin may influence the decision. Discuss these considerations with your surgeon.
After Radiation therapy there re some changes to the skin. Your plastic surgeon should be monitoring these changes and waiting for some recovery of the skin. Therefore your plastic surgeon can answer that question best because he can examine the skin , feel it evaluate it.
Follow the advise of your plastic surgeon
These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.