About Your Options

Tissue expansion

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During a mastectomy, the surgeon removes skin and breast tissue, leaving the chest tissues flat and tight. Before a long-term implant can be placed, the breast tissue needs to be stretched to make space for it. This process is called tissue expansion.

  • Placement: A tissue expander is a balloon-like device made from elastic silicone rubber. To place the expander during a mastectomy, the general surgeon removes skin as well as breast tissue, leaving the chest tissues flat and tight. To create a breast-shaped space for the breast implant, a tissue expander is placed under the remaining chest tissues.
  • The process: It is inserted unfilled and over time sterile saline fluid is added by inserting a small needle through the skin and into the tissue expander’s filling port. As the tissue expander fills, the tissues over the expander gradually begin to stretch. The tissue expander creates a new breast-shaped pocket for a breast implant.
  • A few facts:
    • Tissue expander placement is usually performed under general anaesthesia in an operating theatre.
    • The procedure could require a brief hospital stay, or could be an outpatient procedure.
    • Typically, you can resume normal daily activities after two to three weeks.

Mastectomy Incision
Expander/Implant with Remote Injection Dome
Tissue Expander with Integral Injection Dome
Final Result

MENTOR® CONTOUR PROFILE™ Tissue Expander

The CONTOUR PROFILE™ Tissue Expander is used to expand the skin and create a shaped pocket for implantation. This product is designed to expand primarily in the lower portion of the breast, so the resulting pocket will accommodate the implant and slope like a mature breast. It also has an integral injection dome that allows your surgeon to add saline solution to the expander and gradually stretch the breast tissue over several months. Expansion is typically performed in an office procedure.

For some patients, the secondary operation for the expander/breast implant exchange can be avoided by using an implant that is postoperatively adjustable or is a combination type of expander and mammary implant. In a simple office procedure after your operation, the fluid volume of postoperatively adjustable implants can be increased or reduced. This helps you to achieve the final breast size you desire.

BECKER™ Expander/Breast Implants

The BECKER™ Expander/Breast Implant also functions as both a tissue expander and a long-term adjustable gel breast implant. These unique products have an inner lumen containing saline that allows for tissue expansion and an outer lumen of gel designed to provide a softer feeling implant. The remote injection dome makes volume adjustments simple and can easily be removed when expansion is complete.

Because of their patented dual-shell design, BECKER™ Implants provide the feel of gel with the volume flexibility of a saline implant. The Becker implant with textured surface is available in three styles: Round BECKER™ 25 Expander/Breast Implant (25% gel), Round BECKER™ 50 Expander/Breast Implant (50% gel) and CONTOUR PROFILE™ BECKER™ 35 Expander/Breast Implant (35% gel).

Placing the breast implant

Once the breast-shaped pocket is created, the tissue expander is removed and the breast implant is placed in the pocket that it has created. In reconstruction following a mastectomy, a breast implant is most often placed submuscularly. The operation to replace the tissue expander with a breast implant (implant exchange) is usually done under general anesthesia in an operating theatre. It may require a brief hospital stay or can be done on an outpatient basis.

How much pain can I expect?

Because the chest skin is usually numb from the mastectomy operation, you may not experience much pain from the placement of the tissue expander or from the needle that initially fills it with saline solution.

However, you may experience feelings of pressure, tightness and discomfort after each filling of the expander. Common experience indicates these sensations stop after several days, once the tissue expands, but they may last for a week or more. The tissue expansion process typically lasts four to six months. Your results may differ.

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