Is It Dangerous to Leave the Tissue Expander In?

I currently have 1 tissue expander that has to be removed. It is not inflated and is damaged. The other one was done already. I have decided not to have a breast reconstruction. Is it dangerous to leave it in? How long can this stay without being taken out?

Doctor Answers 6

Tissue expander

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If you have had a tissue exapnder in, you sholdnot leave it in as the final reconstruction.  It is better to place an implant or have it removed.

New York Plastic Surgeon
4.2 out of 5 stars 30 reviews

Tissue Expander as your final implant

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If you are happy with the shape and feel of your reconstructed breast with the tissue expander implant, then there is no urgency to have it removed.  However, a softer saline or silicone gel implant will likely be more comfortable.  Also remember that if your oncologist recommends MRI, you may need to have your expander removed because of the integrated metal backed port.   

A matter of convenience for tissue expanders

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It is just uncomfortable to have an expander which is more rigid than an implant. The expander also has a metal port in it which will prevent you from having MRI's and will show on airport screening machines etc...So it is more a convenient to replace it with a softer gel implant. All the best!

Hisham Seify, MD, PhD, FACS
Orange County Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 19 reviews

I can't see any reason why you can't leave an expander in!

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An expander is so firm I am surprised you would want to leave it in! I can't see any reason that it would be any  more dangerous to leave in than any other implant. I just had a patient that went 6 years with an expander in place and just had it swapped to an implant.

Lisa Cassileth, MD, FACS
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 16 reviews

Foreign body

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The implant by and of itself is not dangerous to leave in. However, it is a foreign body and can be prone to infection especially if you have an infection elsewhere such as a urinary tract infection or upper respiratory infection.

Robin T.W. Yuan, MD
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon

Scarring and leaving tissue expander is debatable

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This is debatable based upon how much scarring you have around that expander. There is no absolute answer either regarding how long it can be left in place.

Expanders tend to be firmer and less comfortable than permanent implants. I would get it out, but I am conservative. If the soft tissue over the expander is healthy, I guess you could opt to leave it in and just see what happened. I don't leave them in long term on a routine basis.

John P. Di Saia, MD
Orange 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.