I only received 9/28 scheduled radiation treatments, but my plastic surgeon still wants to wait 6 months before exchanging my tissue expanders for implants. I could understand if I got the whole treatment but I didn't so I don't understand why I have to wait for 6 months. Is this an ok time frame?
Breast Implants After Radiation?
Doctor Answers (4)
These questions should be answered by your plastic surgeon to your satisfaction. You had some radiation and the tissue is injured by any radiation. Most failures of breast reconstruction with implants is due to prior radiation. Your surgeon is trying to protect you from complications and the need for multiple surgery. After radiation the best method of breast reconstruction is flap reconstruction.
Breast reconstruction after radiation
If you are interested in being seen in Austin please give us a call. I know this is a difficult time for you. The majority of my practice is devoted to reconstruction for women with breast cancer or who are BRCA+
Exchangig tissue expanders for implants
Radiotherapy greatly increases the complication rate of implant based breast reconstruction. If your tissue expander is underneath an LD flap (which is the way I normally use a tissue expander in patients having an immediate reconstruction who are for radiotherapy), I like to wait 6 months the let the swelling and muscle wasting settle down within the flap. If you only have a tissue expander with no flap covering it AND you're had radiotherapy, your surgeon is (and needs) to be cautious. Radiotherapy affects the ability of your skin to heal and risk of implant infection. exposure and loss is significant. I would imagine that waiting 6 months would allow the soft tissues to recover from the initial short term effects of the radiotherapy so that hopefully everything will heal up ok when the definitive implants are placed. I hope this helps.
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Waiting for implants following radiation
No surgeon would try to replace your expander with implants when receiving radiation. You need to finish your treatment (remember, treat the disease first and foremost) and then you can have your implants. If you have adverse effects from radiation on your skin, you may have to even downsize what you would like to get. And you have a high risk for developing contractures around your implants down the road.