Expander Discomfort

Hi everyone,

I had a mastectomy with temporary expander a month ago. It’s half filled at the moment and I’m due to have top ups.

However it’s really uncomfortable near my cleavage, sometimes worse than others but always there. It’s like I can feel the edge of the implant. The port moving around doesn’t bother me although it is an odd sensation.
I’m due for top ups but I’m worried this will make the pain worse. I’m happy with the look of it as it is, because it’s half full my cleavage has a natural look.

I guess I have 2 questions. Firstly has anyone experienced this pain? Secondly do you think inflating it will make the discomfort better or worse?

thank you xx


Hi NicNac22,  

Thanks for your post. It’s understandable you have questions about pain and discomfort in your breast as your expander is inflated.  

The expander is used to gently stretch your chest muscle to form a breast shape. The muscles need to be stretched enough so that the expander can be removed and a permanent implant inserted. This means your treatment team may need to inflate the expander until it is slightly larger than your natural breast size. It’s normal for your breast to feel tight and uncomfortable for a period of time each time the expander is inflated, but this should settle down especially when the permanent implant is inserted. As your chest muscle is thin, the expander is close to your skin which is why you can feel the edges of it.  

We would always suggest you talk with your treatment team about how much your expander is inflated and how you can best manage any pain or discomfort.  

Talking to someone who has had a similar experience can be helpful and our Someone Like Me service can match you with a trained volunteer who’s had a similar experience to you. They’ll be able to contact you by phone call or email to answer your questions, offer support or simply listen. 

We also offer a range of free supportive services for anyone who has had a diagnosis of breast cancer which you may be interested in.  They include face to face and online courses and events.  

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Best wishes 


Breast Care Nurse 

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