In some cases, you may not have enough skin left to create a breast after a tumor removal. You might need implant reconstruction with tissue expansion to make space for a breast implant or flap.
This technique gently stretches or expands the leftover skin to make room for an implant. Before your surgery, your surgeon can tell you if you need tissue expansion.
If you need tissue expansion, your surgeon will put a tissue expander in front of the pectoralis muscle (the push-up muscle in your chest).
Your surgeon can put in the tissue expander during your mastectomy if you’re having delayed immediate reconstruction. Our surgeons use advanced technology called to determine the health and blood supply of your leftover skin. This technology often helps expand the skin during the mastectomy.
A tissue expander works similar to a balloon. For a few weeks after surgery, the expander will gradually fill the tissue with either saline (salt water) or air. This will gently stretch your skin until you are happy with the size of the breast mound. We make sure you are comfortable and safe with the process.
After you have enough room for an implant or flap, your surgeon will remove the expander and put in a permanent implant. Then he or she will permanently close the incision.
Frequently Asked Questions
How often will my surgeon expand the balloon device? You and your plastic surgeon together will decide how often to expand the device and by how much. Your comfort and safety throughout the process are most important.
A New Technology for Tissue Expansion
There is a new technology that your surgeon may offer you as an alternative to the traditional method of tissue expansion. It is the AeroForm tissue expander system, you use a remote-control device that communicates with expanders in your body through Bluetooth-like technology. This gives you the choice to expand your breast tissue anytime and anywhere with up to three puffs of air a day with a few hours in between. With one press of a remote control, you release a dose of 10cc of carbon dioxide. This gradually expands the breasts over time.
Here are the top benefits of the expander system:
- It is patient-controlled. You are in control and decide how often to dose and when to stop expanding your breasts.
- You can do it anywhere. You can release the puffs of air anywhere and anytime they want without having to schedule a doctor’s visit, take off from work or even worry about daycare.
- There are no needles involved. Therefore, there is no need to feel anxious! By using the remote-control device, you can press a button to release a dose of air that expands your breasts steadily. Each small dose can barely be felt.
- Less risky. No needles also means there is less risk for infection or rupture, which can happen occasionally with saline-filled expanders.
- It’s more empowering. With an AeroForm expander, you have full control and release your own doses instead of having to come in every one to two weeks to have a doctor perform the expansion.