• Implant Reconstruction with Tissue Expansion

    Sometimes, removing a breast tumor doesn’t leave enough skin to create a breast. Tissue expansion is a technique that does exactly what it sounds like – it gently stretches, or expands, the remaining skin to make room for a breast implant or flap.

    Your surgeon will determine whether you need tissue expansion before your surgery. If so, he or she will place a balloon-like device called a tissue expander, in front of the pectoralis muscle, the push-up muscle in your chest. If you’re having delayed immediate reconstruction, the tissue expander can be placed during your mastectomy. Our surgeons also use advanced technology called Spy Elite that allows them to determine the health and blood supply of the remaining skin. This technology often helps them to provide some expansion during the operation.

    After the first surgery, for the next few weeks, your plastic surgeon will gradually fill the tissue expander with saline (salt water), adding more every few days. As it expands, the tissue expander will gently stretch your remaining skin until you and the surgeon are satisfied with the size of the breast mound. You and your plastic surgeon will decide together how often to expand the device and by how much. We do not rush this process, and your comfort and safety are top priorities. Each expansion session can be done in our office in ten minutes or less.

    After the skin has grown enough to make room for the implant or flap, your surgeon will remove the balloon expander and insert a permanent implant into the pocket created during expansion. The implant may be saline or silicone. You and the surgeon will select the type, shape and size of the implant together.

    After the surgeon has placed the implant, the incision will be permanently closed. Weeks to months later, if your nipple has not been saved, your surgeon can perform nipple reconstruction or tattooing to create a beautiful, natural-looking new breast.