Permacol and Becker Expander Implants

Hi there

Has anybody had reconstruction using Permacol (pig skin) and Becker tissue expanders. I saw a surgeon yesterday and she discussed this as being the best option for me. Seemingly I am too slim to have either TRAM flap or LP flap. I have not heard about Permacol before, and can’t find any information on it on here.

Please help if you can …

Shenagh x

Just bumping this up! x

Bump bump!

I had this done on 8 Jan. I’m slim too, which was why it was suggested. early days but already it’s looking good. have just finished the expansions (felt a bit tight after the final one but nothing beyond the reach of a paracetamol !).

My recovery from surgery was very smooth - I know I’m lucky - and I felt back to normal very quickly.

I had neo adjuvant chemo (Fec and Taxol) and am about to start rads.

Any other questions please ask.

Onestep, thank you so much for your response. I was beginning to think my surgeon must be making this op up!! I finished rads about five months ago and didn’t have chemo. She suggested a recovery time of approx 3 months - would you agree that’s reasonable?

Thanks again!

Shenagh x

I’m not really far enough from the operation to make a personal assessment of recovery, but I must say I’ve been pleased with the way I’ve progressed so far. i have very good arm/shoulder mobility (had full lymph node removal along with skin sparing mx).

I could drive from 9 days post op, I’m now fully functioning in terms of physical activity, though not lifting heavy things. I don’t even feel especially tired. I’d hope to be fully recovered in less than 3 months, but I’d say it’s a good estimate overall, as it will take a while for damaged nerves etc to recover, and for the scars to fade a bit.

Thanks again Onestep. Did you have the Permacol ‘graft’ or whatever it’s called as well? How many ‘expansions’ did you have? I think my surgeon said this would be done fortnightly but I don’t know for how long. Sorry for all the questions - I’m just amazed that no-one else appears to have heard of it : )

Shenagh x

hello again she! you may remember i had becker expander implants bi laterally in nov last year. i must say that overall i am happy with the result. thro clothes, i actually prefer the look to my old boobs, and i wear vest tops with no bra and they look good!!! (i’m sure they will look better naked when the scars fade and i have nipples tattooed etc…)
on the downside, the skin is virtually numb, with only small areas of sensation. They do feel VERY firm to touch and do not ‘wobble’ when i jump up and down at all.
i have had 2x expansions and am a c cup now. i will be having the ports removed soon.
i have no idea what permacol is… and certainly have no experience of it… so cant advise there sorry!
good luck… xxxx

hi ! I had 2 proper expansions in addition to a very small one done during the op. I’m a C cup. My expansions were a week apart in the end, but the surgeon had originally thought he’d do them with a longer gap as has been proposed for you. maybe 4 pregnancies and breastfeeding x 4 has hmmm, stretched my skin somewhat already which is why mine were completed quite promptly. I did feel a little tight after the final one, but that’s because it was overinflated in preparation for rads. Don’t know if you’ve ever breastfed but the tight feeling is a little like the engorgement you can feel if your baby has left a longer than average interval between feeds. Nothing too bad, just uncomfortable really, but it does settle.

Yes I had the pig skin mesh. My surgeon had to negotiate with my insurers before they’d agree, even though aesthetically it was the best way forward. not like I was having this boob job out of vanity, was my wryly amused response to being told this. £1500…not cheap !

Redcell, lovely to hear from you!! Sounds like you’re doing well. Thanks so much for your posting about the Beckers, that’s very reassuring! Permacol is actually pig skin (which worried me somewhat) but my surgeon says I’m too slim too get enough skin/tissue from my tummy or from my back hence she would use this Permacol!

Onestep, thank you again! I have indeed breastfed and know the feeling you are talking about. When I was diagnosed eight months ago, my baby son was only nine months old, and I had only just finished breastfeeding him. Hmm, so much for the thought that breastfeeding lowers your risk of getting BC!

I had faith that someone on here would know what I was talking about!!

Shenagh xx

She…yes, the so called pregnancy and breastfeeding protection theory did nothing for me either. I’ve spent about 4 years breastfeeding and mentally I have moved on now (what’s the point in being angry about being on the wrong side of the statistcal curve) but my diagnosis was particularly shocking to me as really I thought I’d ticked none of the bc boxes, in terms of reproductive life, diet, fitness (eat well and love my veggies, keen swimmer, horse rider, regular at the gym etc)

anyway if the pig skin mesh and expandable implant are recommended for you, then go for it. I was really touched that my surgeon fought for me to have the mesh in particular, as although I’d felt fairly gung ho and unemotional about the mx, there’s no doubt at all that having at least a partially inflated boob with a good contour (which is what the mesh gives if you are slim with little or no fat under the breast skin if conserved)is an easier thing to face afterwards than a flat chest with palpable ribs, which is what slim ladies otherwise wake up to after a mx. After rads I can either keep this implant minus the port, or have a silicone or permanent saline one put in. That’s why I appreciate my surgeon speaking up for me to have the mesh; it may be taken out and replaced in a few months if I end up not being totaly happy with the end result following rads, yet he was prepared to speak up for me.

same here with the breastfeeding and living healthy thing. i have run marathans, eat well, and was diagnosed whilst breastfeeding my son, then 6 months. GRRRR!!! infact that is my biggest hangup of the whole cancer diagnosis. i loved breastfeeding and HATED having to stop for cancer treatment.
she, forgot to say yesterday that my implants were partially inflated during intial op, and ive had two subsequent fillings 4 weeks apart. (this was done slower as the pathology after my mastectomies indicated that i did not need radiotherapy).

i did feel very tight post op, and it is very similar to the breastfeeding engorgement feeling, but deeper (if that makes sense?!)
the implants also felt as though they were in my armpits to begin with, but now they seem to have settled well.

Thanks again girls. My surgeon has asked me to go away (politely!) and think about this carefully for three months, so am due to go back up and see her at the end of April. Certainly a lot for me to think about.

Shenagh xx

Hi She,
I am 12 years post mx and have just been offerred a similar op to you with ‘Strattice’ (pig skin) and McGhan expander implant. I had radiotherapy 12 years ago but didn’t bother with reconstruction at the time as I didn’t fancy messing about with my back muscle. Now this new option is available I’m trying to decide whether to go for it or stick with my prosthesis.

Has anyone else had expander implants after radiotherapy? I’m a bit concerned as to whether my irradiated pectoral muscle will stand up to the stretching etc.


I’d really welcome the opportunity to hear about people’s experience of having Becker implants and subsequent radiotherapy. I have bilateral breast cancer - and am due a mastectomy of my left breast and either mastectomy or a wide local excision and lift of the right breast. It’s very likely I will need radiotherapy on the left side as well.
I’m finding it difficult to find info on how risky it is to have Becker implants prior to radiotherapy. My surgeon has said she will do it, but warned me that radiotherapy could affect it negatively (worse case scenario being having to have the implant completely removed). Can anyone help me by sharing their experience?
I don’t want to have reconstruction using my back or stomach if I can possibly avoid it.

Thank you so much