Tissue expander query

Hi everyone, I had a single-sided mastectomy 13 weeks ago with immediate reconstruction using a tissue expander. My surgeon is then keen to replace the expander with an implant in around a year’s time. I was just wondering if anyone could offer any advice about when the tissue expander might feel “normal”. I can’t explain the issue I’m having, only that it’s like I can feel there’s something different in my chest all the time and I’m always aware of the different sensation even when busy at work etc, it’s not painful, just feels different! Has anyone ever experienced this or has any top tips on what I can do to get past this feeling? Thank you in advance!

Hallo @sls1.

I had an expander implant over a year ago and it still feels strange. I’d say that it feels uncomfortable and unpleasant most of the time, and painful some of the time. I was diagnosed with capsular contracture after having radiotherapy so not sure how much of the discomfort may be due to that. Over time it has developed 2 folds at the base, which is very usual according to the BCN and some sort of ripples at both sides at the top. I still find the port uncomfortable too as it just on my bra-line. All in all, it is pretty mis-shapen and I’m looking forward to having it replaced at some stage. How does yours feel?

Thank you so much for your response! So sorry to hear yours is uncomfortable and sometimes painful. I have recently finished radiotherapy and would say the uncomfortableness has increased since so I’m wondering if I’m also developing capsular contraction, I was warned this was rather likely! Mine ripples along the outside edge too. I’d just say mine feels strange and uncomfortable, it’s like it is very slightly bruised all of the time. I’m very numb in the area so I’m unsure if some of it is do with being so numb, some of it just me getting used to having something that’s “not me” inside me and the other part I wonder if it’s also just because it’s a reminder of what’s happened. Sorry for the ramble! X

Yes, I think when you can physically feel it, it can be a reminder of what has happened. For me, I’m still happy with my decision to have some sort of immediate implant rather than come out of surgery being flat on that side (right side). I would have found that very difficult I think. At first, I felt very much that I still had my own skin, it was just the inside that was different - weirdly, that was comforting.

I had all 12 of my lymph nodes removed at the same time (1 was found to have cancer), so the whole of my right arm and underarm was also numb for a long time. I have recovered a lot of feeling there but it all adds to the strange sensations!

Hello @sls1

The expander is not the best is it. Mine were very uncomfortable especially when they’re over filled to get the right stretch ready for implants. Always felt like i was wearing a tight bra even though i wasn’t wearing a bra.

Implants are more comfortable once they’ve settled.

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Yes, I’m definitely still happy with my decision to have it! I’m relatively young (28) so think being able to have immediate reconstruction was reassuring and has definitely helped ease some of the stress!
Thankfully, I only had 2 nodes removed and both were fine so didn’t need a clearance

Hope you’re doing well now and thank you so much for replying! :smiling_face:

Thank you so much for replying! I definitely know what you mean about a tight bra, that’s a good analogy! I don’t think mine has been overfilled, I know my surgeon intends to “increase the footprint” when she goes in to replace with an implant as mine is definitely too narrow currently! All a game isn’t it! So pleased to hear your implants are more comfortable! Hope you’re doing well now and thank you for the reply! :smiling_face:

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