Tissue Expander After MX

I had a tissue expander placed on Thursday and it is extremly painful. My MX, chemo, and radiation were about a year ago. How long does the pain from the tissue expander last?

Hi - sorry you’re in pain, i had my expander removed a year to the day after MX (home today ), I’m sorry to say that for me the expnder was very uncomfortable for the year that it was in, although its always very difficult to describe pain - clearly it wasn’t intolerable but it was always very uncomfortable. In the beginning it was very painful, recall tells me that particular feeling lasted for a few weeks . Sorry its not what you wanted to hear, hope it gets better for you soon.


Hi - I had my expanders put in along with my double mx 3 weeks ago and it’s moved from painful to very uncomfortable now. The inflation process a couple of weeks later was painful (get strong painkiller in for that) but eases with time. First thing in the morning it is sore and the effort of sitting up and getting out of bed is the worst part, but once I’m up and about it’s not so bad.

Although the worst of the post-op recovery is over, it does get me down. Where the ports sit, on the top half of the breasts, it is quite tender and any movement which stretches the chest muscle isn’t completely back to normal. I’m really trying hard to focus on the improvement since the op rather than how I feel compared with before the op, but it is hard.

So I know what you’re going through! I’ve been told I should be able to get the permanent implants replacement in the summer (Lynn - how did you tolerate a year!) so I’m trying to remind myself that it’s a temporary thing. At the end of the day the point of the expander is to re-shape a muscle which hasn’t ever been asked to work like this before so it’s a big ask of our bodies.

Best of luck with your recovery - keep taking the painkillers as there is no point stressing your body with pain as this will hinder your recovery. Based on my limited experience as I’m only a few weeks ahead of you - yes the pain eases but you aren’t going to back to old self immediately.

Hi Breecrem,
I had my mastectomy and expander put in a week ago last Saturday. I too underestimated the pain, & I am no wimp. I thought that after a week it would be fine. to a point it is, I had my last drain out on Friday & put straight into the sports bra (24/7 for 3 months!) this is the bit that I am struggling with…so uncomfortable! I am conscious of the bra all of the time. yesterday (at my husbands suggestion) I wrote out a plan to take the regular painkillers to keep on top of everything & to be fair it is working.

I know I am only just over a week, I agree ith Lynvee, it is very uncomfortable, but I keep telling myself, this is way better than Chemo!!!

good luck, love Jenny xx


I had a mastectomy on left side in October 2009 and went back in October 2010 to have the other breast removed. Had expanders put in at same time and am now almost at the size I want to be. The left side that has had longer to heal has been fine but with the right side I was in a lot of pain for the first six weeks then suddenly it stopped hurting and I have been OK ever since. I had to sleep on three pillows for those first weeks and could only sleep on my back which was hard but it did get better.

Always uncomfortable for a couple of days after the saline is inserted though.

My breasts are fairly hard but look OK to me in comparison to having had only one breast. I have been told the implants will be softer. I do love to go to the gym and it is so good not to have to wear a prosthesis anymore and I can now wear a bra without any additional stuffing so it has been worth it.

I used to have large breasts and I always felt lopsided once I had the first breast removed. I love the size I am now, was a DD and will now be a C.

I bought myself some singlets with inbuilt cups for pregnant women and have found them to be very comfortable after each of my surgeries. I have been putting a bit of padding in them and reducing it each time I have the expansion. You can step into them rather than having to get over your head and I wear them with shorts in the summer or under work blouses. I found them much more comfortable than bras and buying the pregnancy ones meant they are a bit roomier around the middle.

Hi all - I had a bilateral mastectomy last June and still in tissue expanders I had my last top up in September, it’s always more uncomfortable after having saline inserted. I’m at the stage where I feel I’m a little bigger than I need to be but had a fold in my right breast and was hoping it would pop out with more saline. I do feel though that as things heal you do get used to tissue expanders at 5 in the afternoon I used to feel that I wanted to take them off, I don’t get that now. I went skiing this month too which is something I never imagined doing with them in, just didn’t want to miss out on a ski season. Something that did feel strange was swimming as I do breast stroke usually although I wouldn’t say it was painful just very uncomfortable, the rowing machine at the gym is something I avoid now as this too feels uncomfortable. I’m really looking forward to having my tissue expanders replaced by implants in March as everyone says they are much more comfortable! At the moment I am trying to decide what gel to have Soft touch or Responsive. Best wishes to all you ladies out there! X

Hi - my experience of them is very similar to the comment by xwelcomex - I often feel like I’ve had enough of them (been in since April 2010), but then I don’t really want the alternative of having to fill a bra with 2 prothesis, or not bothering with anything at all, so I’m just ‘going with it’ - hoping to have my silicone implants put in April/May, so not too much longer to wait - really hope they feel (and look) better than the expanders, but lots of people on here have said they do.

Good luck with what you decide.
Best wishes, Samm x

Sorry, just realised I havn’t actually answered your question !! Seeing as you’ve only just had your expander put in, I think the pain is normal, but do try to get on top of managing this, i.e. I think I took 2 paracetamol, then 4 hours later I would take an ibuprofen, then 4 hours later take 2 more paracetamol, then 4 hours later an ibuprofen, etc, and this way you know you are having something every 4 hours whilst keeping in with the safe limits. The pain will ease, you may find them more ‘uncomfortable’ rather than painful over time and after each ‘filling’, but this is usually bearable, or just take the paracetamol/ibuprofen at these times if you need it.

Hope it gets less painful for you soon.
Take care, Samm x

Hi - a quick update from me seeing as I’m a couple weeks ahead of you with the expander op. I had my second and last inflation last week and it was a lot easier than the first one which I did find v painful. Possibly because I knew what to expect and managed the pain relief much better this time.

However a couple of days after that, I really felt like I made huge progress and the pain has dramatically subsided. The skin is a lot less tender and yes they are still hard and uncomfortable but I can see a demonostrable difference is what I can do now - including using my arms more and lying on my side for a bit at night. During the day I can start to forget they are there and apart from not being able to do sport (and I’m not back at work yet as my employers are being really good), I can do pretty much everything as normal. So if you’re still struggling, it will get much easier - honest!


Sorry to jump in like this but from all your experience I’m hoping you might be able to help. I had second mastectomy and double reconstruction last week with ld flap and permanent prosthesis with port for inflation and on the right side I had tissue expander put in. Am I right in thinking that once they are inflated the tissue expander is removed and does this involve another operation? Sorry its one of those things I hadn’t really thought about, I was too absorbed in the thoughts of new boobs :slight_smile:

Thanks again

Krissy x


Hi Krissy - I’m not sure if i’ve understood your question properly so hope i’m not confusing the issue. In my case i had a tissue expander in for a yr - inflated gradually through the port, then yes as you asked, another op in which the tissue expander and port were removed and replaced with a permanent silicone implant. The second op is regarded as “small beer” in operation terms but it does require a general anaesthetic and in my case an overnight stay in hospital.


Hi Lynn

Yeah thats exactly what I thought would happen. Did you still have a drain in?

Krissy x

No drain Krissy - had it removed on the morning after the op.



I take it all back… just got out of hospital following a really nasty wound infection. starved 3 times ready for theatre to have the expander removed. out last thursday but on IV antibiotics at home and to continue for a further 2 weeks.

very very uncomfortable, sometimes I think just take it out!!! but then I think no I have been through all of this, I am not giving up now! wearing the sports bra 24/7 is a pain, but getting used to it.

Can I just ask what happens when they put the saline in? I’m due to have my first lot in on Thursday and I’m quite nervous. How do they find the right place to put it in? Any information would help as I’m feeling apprehensive now.


Hi Krissy,

I know that there are two types, one with a port and one with a magnet. I have the one with a magnet.

When I was discharged from hospital after the op, they gave me a loittle gray plastic 2 inch block that had a small metal peg on it, with a small x on the bottom of the pastic, under the metal peg.

they needed to remove some fluid when I was in hopspital, they used this block to identify where the magnet in the expander was, by hovering the block above my breast tissue, once the metal peg was in the centre, the doctor pushed gently on my skin so that the cross marked my skin. she then used a very narrow needle and inserted it into the expander to remove some of the fluid, sounds terrible, but I didn’t feel a thing, bearing in mind my breast tissue was red, swollen and infected. hopoe this helps, but it honestly didn’t hurt. the thought was far worse.

good luck
love Jenny xx

Hi Krissy - i had the port method, the nurse would have a wee feel to make sure it was sitting the right way up then inserted a needle into the middle of the port. For me it was slightly uncomfortable, no worse than that - often the prick of the needle was the worst bit and that wasn’t too bad at all. Good luck i’m sure you’ll fine.



Mine is the port method. The left port sticks out but I can’t feel the one in the right breast. How long does it normally take?