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Breast Reconstruction Using Tissue Expanders

Women faced with breast cancer and mastectomy surgery may find more complete healing through breast reconstruction to “recreate” the removed breast(s). If you want or are strongly considering breast reconstruction, there are several available techniques from which to choose.  With the announcement of the newly FDA-approved AeroForm® tissue expander, some breast reconstruction candidates may be strongly considering this technique over others.

Breast reconstruction with a tissue expander is the most commonly used approach and may help you achieve the results that you desire.

Breast Reconstruction Before and After Photos

The Tissue Expander Approach

The tissue expander is a temporary inflatable implant that is inserted into the breast either at the time of the mastectomy or at some later point in time – even years later if so desired. Its purpose is to stretch out or create new skin so as to allow the insertion of a more permanent and appropriate sized breast implant.

Most commonly, it is inflated during several office visits by injecting it either with saline or air. The period of time for full expansion can take anywhere from one to several months depending on a variety of factors. Once the breast skin has stretched sufficiently, the expander can then be removed and replaced with a more permanent implant.

Why It Is Used

A tissue expander creates volume and space for an implant to be inserted so that the results can appear more natural and the size more appropriate and desirable. There are many situations where this technique may be strongly indicated, including women with small breasts initially, those who are expected to have a deficiency of breast skin following a mastectomy, those who elect for a delayed reconstruction, and women who undergo a double mastectomy. Finally, women who want to avoid extremely complex or deforming procedures incisions in multiple areas of the body (free tissue transfer) and who desire a shorter and easier surgical recovery can benefit from undergoing this technique.

What You Can Expect

The tissue expander method is a multi-stage approach to breast reconstruction (which is true of most breast reconstruction approaches). After the tissue expander has been inserted, it takes time to stretch the breast tissue in preparation for the implant. Several months later, patients undergo a secondary surgery to replace the tissue expander with a more permanent implant.

With this approach, you can also elect to have surgery on the opposite breast to improve symmetry. This procedure should be “covered” by your health insurance carrier as it is a federal mandate.

There is no need for the anguish and emotional pain of breast cancer and resulting disfiguring surgical consequences on your body to continue to plague you long after your cancer treatment is complete. Breast reconstruction with a tissue expander can restore your breasts and your sense of femininity to help provide emotional closure after your cancer experience.

Board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Steven Turkeltaub has nearly 30 years of experience performing breast surgery. Dr. Turkeltaub would be more than happy to perform your breast reconstruction and answer all your questions. Call us at (480) 451-3000 or complete our online contact form to request your personal consultation today.