Will Tissue Expander Failure Affect Breast Implants?

Bi-Lateral Mastectomy, reconstruction with tissue expanders, one expander is not expanding. It did, now it appears after 4 weeks and no expansion that it has a hole and I am deflating. Will this problem affect the outcome of my implant surgery to be done in 4 weeks?

Doctor Answers 5

Symmetry is more important than absolute size!

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A mechanical failure of one of your expansion devices is not the end of the world. In reality, asymmetries exist with all breast patients. The goal of your reconstruction should be a good breast shape that is relatively symmetrical. If your surgeon was able to recruit enough breast tissue to accommodate an implant that will be a good size match for the opposite breast, you should be OK. If not, you may need to have the expander replaced and continue the expansion a while longer.

Depends on how much soft tissue is available and what your goals are

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Tissue expanders are used to create more soft tissue to allow implants to be used. Often, implants, if of relatively small size, can be immediately inserted without the use of expanders. Your surgeon should be able to tell you the significance of the expander deflation. If it was expanded and then deflated, your surgeon might feel there is sufficient skin to complete the procedure. Sometimes expanders are used as spacers without a real necessity for absolute expansion.

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

Expander deflating

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If the expander has a hole in it, it can be changed and the pocket expanded. It should not impact the final result.

Tissue expanders and breast cancer reconstruction

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The tissue expander that is deflated may have to be replaced.  This will not change long term outcome with breast reconstruction.  

How much skin do you have and what is the final size of the implants?

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It really depends on the size of the final implant you choose to have placed and the amount of tissue present.

If you require a small implant, it is unlikely that a 4 week deflation will have much impact.

If,however, you require a big implant and have limited skin available then it may have an effect on your final reconstruction

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.