Experiences of tissue expander???

hi guys!

After a positive result on my SNB last week my immediate recon plans were effectively scrapped and now because of the inclusion of rads in my treatment plan the compromise is the insertion of a tissue expander after my mx which will defo be next Thursday.

As I am 37 and recon will not take place until at least this time next year, the surgeon thinks this is the kinder option for me as it will save some skin and give me some sort of a shape over time.

I’ve finally gotten my head around it but have TONS of questions, so I am turning to the wealth of knowledge here. Has anybody had experiences of this proceedure they would like to share??


Oh and how long does it take to get a shape?

I had a tissue expander when I had my mx in August as I wasn’t sure if I would be having rads. I am, so right decision! Mine had about 70ml inserted in surgery so wasn’t completely flat from the start. I’ve had it expanded a couple of times now which is a bizarre experience. Lie down with quite flat boob, sit up after with round one! It’s now nearly the same size as the other one in a bra, but much rounder as it hasn’t breastfed 4 babies! The aim at the moment is that I look ok in a bra and we’ll go for more balanced shape later. I’m pleased with it so far.

Thanks for that! I was just so gutted to miss out on the immediate recon, docs offered me this in the interim as I will be having rads after chemo (only the start of the journey- scared witless!).

Docs said if I liked it I could go for this permanently, but the diep may gave a more realistic effect.

Also how does your boob look after surgery? Is it ok or pretty gruesome- now that it’s happening my head is filling full of thoughts…


Also, is it painful or not?? My head is buzzing now with loads of things I should have asked earlier…

Hi I had tissue expanders in for a year which were recently replaced with implants.I found the expanders to be very hard,like cricket balls,they were inflated 3 times which is very uncomfortable for a couple of days initially but settles down.I was very happy when they were finally relaced with the much softer implants but they look ok under clothes and are better than nothing at all.I have also just 2 wks ago had nipples tattood and am very happy with final result,so even tho I found the expanders to be hard and at times uncomfortable the end result is worth all the hassle,Good luck on Thursday,

I honestly don’t know what to expect at this stage…

Hi Neadi
I’ve had mine for 18 months and I’m waiting for a funding decision on whether the surgeon can use strattice when she replaces it. I’m very small and she wants to provide some more support for the replacement implant. I only had 2 fills, one at the time of the mx and one 6 weeks later when I had my nodes sampled (I had the mx for DCIS but an invasive tumour was found too so I had to have the nodes done later). I then had rads too.
My boob is quite hard, and also sits rather higher than the other but it’s fine once I’ve hauled the real one up with a good bra. The port on the side of your ribs is a bit of a nuisance but you get used to it, including setting aiport scanners off when everyone has been really considerate once I explain why. I found the discomfort of the muscle stretching the worst thing, it made getting up from lying down rather difficult, so it’s best to get yourself set up with lots of pillows to help you sleep slightly upright. I was off painkillers after about week, but it’s absolutely OK to be a wuss and take them before it hurts, not after so I was pretty fine really after a couple of days.

Good luck, I’m sure you’ll be fine.

Thanks for replying foxy!!
God, I never thought of setting the alarms off at the airport!!! :slight_smile: priceless!!!
I KNOW that this will only be a temporary measure, but as people have said, it is better than nothing, and hopefully will be worth it in the long term…

Hi Neadi,
I had my Mx on the 4th of october and a tissue expander put in, for me i needed something that would let me feel somewhere near normal until I finished all my treatment. At the time of the operation we didn,t know if I would need rads but thankfully my SNB came back clear so chemo (starting 23rd of november) and herceptin.
It has given me what i was looking for, my biggest dread was getting dressed every day and having to plop a latex boob in a pocket before facing the world. I have kept my chest wall and can wear normal bras. ok naked it doesn’t look anything like a bood but once there is a bra or cami on it looks like i have had nothing done at all.I also look normal in my nightwear. in a morning i just get dressed as always and some mornings even forget what a battle i’ve had. it has taken a few weeks for it not to feel strange but now i don’t give it a second thought, although i will remember when i have it filled a little more next wednesday. It is a little uncomfy for a couple of days until the skin stretches but a couple of pain killers will sort that and for me that is a small price to pay for me to feel like i have some sort of normality.
next hurdle is trying the cold cap to try and keep my hair. fingers crossed that will turn out as well as the results of my tissue expander.
wishing you all the best with your decision

Thanks for that Lynne. I’m glad your SNB came back clear. I had one positive node (gutted). Do you think you will stick with the expander or change in the future?? I’m a d cup, so plastics don’t think it’s the best option for me overall, but the best for now…

Best of luck with the next stage of the treatment. When I get there I would be interested in trying the cold cap option, but my hubbie isn’t too keen on the idea. Me? I’m keeping all options open until I get all the facts!

Thanks for replying


Thanks a million!!
Keep in touch with your progress xx

Hi Neadi,
I think I will probably have a permenent implant in time as unfortunatly the left side looks like a sad spaniels ear so will need an uplift and if i am going to fight this battle i intend to grab every silver lining available i.e. more pert boobs that will still be in the same place when i’m 90 (i’m only 40 at the moment) and not round my knees.
as for the cold cap i’m going to give it a whirl,if it works great, if not all i’ve got to loose is my hair and i’ll give that lovley short crop haircut that i would never have been brave enough to try before a go and it sorts my fancy dress for new years eve, i’ll paint myself blue and go as one of the argos aliens.
good luck with whatever you try xx

Hi Neadi,
I have tissue expanders in both breast following MX in August. I had chemo first March - June.
I am glad I chose immediate reconstruction as it means one less operation. I am impressed with my surgeons work, scars are quite fine & neat. The expanders are a bit like cricket balls as DID said. :slight_smile: but they look fine, I look perfectly normal in bra, low necklines etc
One of mine dropped down & I needed repair surgery so that meant it could not be inflated same as other one for a few weeks. 400ml per breast is my max, roughly giving me a 36C, I was down to a 36A at begining of year from a B cup, stress related weight loss.
Yes, I had pain, it was nerve damage mostly, round my breasts & arms, armpits on one side are numb - I had axillary clearance on that side. I pushed for better painkillers - co-codamol did not touch the pain for me & I got Gabapentin which is for nerve pain. Now pain is well under control, just have problem with my arm, mobility & nerve pain, but it is getting better daily. I get phantom nipple pain, where I no longer have nipples… really weird;)
I started Rads last week and do feel things are a bit tighter, but thats all so far.
The expanders will be exchanged for perm implants feb/march, giving things time to settle down.
I have been told to wear a sports bra night & day for 6 weeks post surgery - I got nice smooth ones in Tesco for £6 - you will feel as though you have a bra on when you dont, I’m still not used to them, and can’t wait to get them exchanged. I hope all goes well for you x