How Much to Fill a Expander at Each Visit?

I currently am seeing my PS to have my expander filled to reach my desired size. It feels like it is going to take forever. He only will put in 30-35cc each week. Is this low? I have not had any pain from the filler as of yet. I was hoping to fill 50cc at each visit. Is there a certain number you are comfortable with on filling expanders?

Doctor Answers 5

Expander fill average

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Depending on the size of the expander, it's current fill volume, and your tissues it would not be uncommon to vary what you do. For most patients, we usually do ~ 50ml on each session every 2 weeks until finished. On smaller patients or those with thinner tissue, a volume such as you describe might not be unusual

How Much to Fill a Tissue Expander at Each Visit in preparation of Breast Reconstruction

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Knowing how much to inject is dependent upon several factors:

  • The discomfort level of the patient
  • The amount of skin laxity after placement of the Expander
  • The size of the Expander
  • The time interval between injections

As a rule of thumb this is my approach:

  • One week after Placement of the Expander, I may place only 30 to 60 cc's
  • The following week I will usually inject approximately 60 to 100 cc's
  • From here on out I will inject with no set volume in mind but with a careful observation of the skin for excessive tightening, good blood supply and the comfort level of the patient.  Injections at this point are between 60 to 120 cc's per visit and are 10 to 14 days apart until the process is complete.

Joseph Rucker, MD, FACS
Eau Claire Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 21 reviews

How Much to Fill a Expander at Each Visit?

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The limiting factors are patient comfort and skin tolerance.
  • The skin should not be stretched so tight that its blood flow is compromised.
  • The incision through which the expander was placed should not be stretched so much that it pulls apart. 
  • The tissues should not be stretched to the point of discomfort to the patient. 

Ask your surgeon why the fill volumes are what they are. If there is not a concern about the first two items, let the surgeon know that your pain tolerance hasn't been reached!


Thanks for the question, best wishes.

Jourdan Gottlieb, MD
Seattle Plastic Surgeon

Filling expanders

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Filling a breast expander varies.  Usually it depends upon how much a patient tolerates the injection but can also be impacted by factors such as radiation, chemotherapy, healing, tightness, etc. Ofteen I wil lfill about 60 cc a session sometimes more and sometimes less depending upon these factors.

Steven Wallach, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.2 out of 5 stars 30 reviews

Expansion Volume

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The amount to be placed in an expander depends upon a number of facors including the quality of the skin, the quality of the surgical of the surgical scar, the size of the expander and comfort. There is no set amount that should be placed in the expander. The other factor in the process is the need for chemotherapy and the associated timing of the second stage to remove the expander and replace it with the final reconstructive implant. Be patient, your surgeon has your best interests in mind.

James M. Kurley, MD
Champaign Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 39 reviews

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.