What does a tissue expander do before breast reconstruction?
I was diagnosed with breast cancer about a year and a half ago. I had a double mastectomy and am now left with a flat chest. I was never big chested but in order to get my breasts reconstructed my plastic surgeon said I would need to use a tissue expander. Why is this needed for breast reconstruction? Is it painful?
Hi. The expander is used to slowly stretch the chest muscle and skin so it can accommodate an implant which will provide a nice breast reconstruction for you. There are other ways to do breast reconstruction without tissue expanders, but you would have to find out from your PS if you are a candidate for one of these alternatives. One option is to put the implants on top of the muscle in a "wrap" of cadaver skin, and this can be done in one operation without tissue expansion in some instances. You can also find out if you are a candidate for having reconstruction with your own skin and fat so that you don't need an implant. It never hurts to get a second opinion if your surgeon since you aren't under any time pressure to get it done. Best of luck!