Many women feel incomplete after losing one or more breasts to cancer, but a mastectomy does not have to be permanent change. At the Plastic Surgery Group at City Centre, we have some of the top reconstructive surgeons in British Columbia. Our talented doctors have dedicated their careers to helping women restore their confidence and preferred physique. One of the best assets they have is a tissue expander. Read on to understand how a tissue expander helps women seeking breast reconstruction.
How Do Tissue Expanders Work?
Many women use breast implants to help reconstruct their breasts. Usually, the remaining tissue on the breast is insufficient to hold a breast implant. A tissue expander is a tool that helps to create enough space for an implant. The expander is basically a small, empty implant that can be inserted in front of or behind the main pectoral muscle. A surgeon can insert this tissue expander immediately following a mastectomy or at any later date that the patient decides.
A valve extending from the expander protrudes from the skin. Over multiple appointments, a doctor can add small amounts of saline water (or sometimes air) so that the expander gradually becomes bigger. This process helps to stretch the skin and tissue without causing undue discomfort.
At the point where the breast tissue has a pocket large enough to fit the desired size of the breast implant, the surgeon can remove the tissue expander. He or she then inserts the silicone or saline breast implant through this same incision to avoid creating additional scarring.
Who Is a Tissue Expander Right For?
Ultimately, it is a woman’s own decision to have breast reconstruction after a mastectomy or double mastectomy. Some women prefer not to re-augment their chest. Of those who do wish to reconstruct their breasts, a tissue expander is often recommended to women with smaller frames who want modestly sized breasts. They must be willing to make time to attend weekly appointments to expand their breast tissue.
However, tissue expanders are hardly the only breast reconstruction option. Women who want larger-than-average breasts (either to be proportional to their body size or to exaggerate their breast profile) are often better for TRAM flap surgery. This procedure harvests excess tissue from the abdomen that is molded to create new breasts.
Schedule a Consultation
If you are planning to have a mastectomy or have had one in the past and would love to learn more about reconstructing your breasts with tissue expanders or another option, please schedule a consultation with one of our caring, expert plastic surgeons. We can answer all your questions to give you the information you need to make a decision that feels right for you. Please call 604-589-6021 today.