Can Some of the Fluid Be Removed from Tissue Expanders?

I recently had tissue expanders put in on both breasts due to breast cancer diagnosis. I feel that they have been filled beyond the size that I would like my breast to be. Can some of the fluid be removed or do I have to stay this size?

Doctor Answers 4

Fluid can be inserted and removed

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It is typical to over-expand the expanders in order to achieve a softer end result.  If your volume in the expanders is above the minimum required for that particular expander, saline can be removed and make them smaller.  Talk with your doctor as this is best addressed by them.


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Saline can be removed from the expanders. If they were overfilled, they can be reduced to the recommended range of volume. If they are at the minimum fill volume, they can still be reduced and a smaller implant placed at the second stage. This is the advantage of expanders..adjustability!

Michael S. Beckenstein, MD
Birmingham Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 21 reviews

Breast reconstruction expander fill volume

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The simple answer is yes some of the fluid can be removed, but your surgeon is in the best position to answer your questions. He or she knows much more about your situation.

In breast reconstruction, tissue expanders are used to produce a suitable result for implants that will simulate your breasts. Generally that means stretching skin to provide adequate skin contour and volume. Each tissue expansion visit is tailored to a patient's comfort, not too tight so as to cause excessive discomfort. Occasionally a fill session is too uncomfortable and a small amount of saline is removed until the next session.

At the end of the expansion process, your surgeon may have planned to have your expander volume temporarily larger than your final breast implant volume. Many considerations go into this decision. Talk with him or her. Breast reconstruction involves many decisions and several steps to reach the final result. Your surgeon will not want to make your breasts larger than you are comfortable with.

Sutton Graham II, MD
Greenville Plastic Surgeon

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Tissue expander deflation

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You can remove fluid from your expander but there is a reason why your surgeon may want to over-inflate your size in order to make the final implant fit more comfortably. This depends on the type of implant reconstruction he is performing. You should discuss his strategy with him or should have already. If you are experiencing discomfort because of the tightness, then it might be reasonable to deflate a bit to your level of tolerance.

Robin T.W. Yuan, MD
Beverly Hills 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.