What is a Tissue Expander and What Should You Know After a Mastectomy?

What is a Tissue Expander and What Should You Know After a Mastectomy?

A tissue expander is an unfilled breast implant that will be placed during a mastectomy by your surgeon. The manner in which you care for yourself following a mastectomy with breast reconstruction using a tissue expander is crucial. Discuss your health concerns and queries with your physician. Thus, you will receive only the finest medical care!

The following is a mini-guide to breast reconstruction using a tissue expander and what you may encounter during the procedure. Read thoroughly.

Reconstruction of the Breast Using a Tissue Expander

During the mastectomy, the tissue expander is inserted, and your surgeon will begin to fill it with air or liquid over the course of 6 to 8 weeks. Remember that your surgeon will cease filling your tissue expander once the breast size you agreed upon has been reached. As your tissue expander grows, it will elongate the surrounding tissue to make room for a breast implant.

There are two placement options for tissue expanders:

  • Prepectoral placement is when the expander is placed over the large pectoralis muscle in the chest; this also includes a mesh (acellular dermal matrix) that holds the expander while your skin heals; the best part is that the mesh is absorbed by the body.
  • Submuscular implantation means that the expander is placed in an opening under the pectoralis major muscle in the thorax.

What to Expect Following Your Mastectomy and Tissue Expander Implantation

Following surgery, you will awaken in the Post-Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU)/ recovery room, where you will receive the following:

– Intravenous (IV) access to fluids, antibiotics, and painkillers;
– Small plastic drains will be placed underneath or close to each incision to capture fluid around the wounds after surgery; these will remain in place for one to two weeks before they are fastened with a suture (stitch).

Self-Care at Home

Remember that it is crucial to contact your plastic surgeon if you experience any of the following:

  • A temperature of 100.4 °F or higher (38.0 °C).
  • New discharge from your wound
  • Increased breast crimsonness
  • Increased breast enlargement.
  • Over 30 milliliters of crimson drainage/ hour in your JP drains.
  • Poor scarring

When you depart the hospital, a gauze bandage will be placed over your incision. It is normal to observe some discoloration on the gauze pad 24 to 48 hours (1 to 2 days) following surgery. Keep your surgical bra 24 hours a day (remove before showering) until otherwise instructed by your doctor. The rest of the things you have to do include (they might differ from one person to another!):

1) Do not take a shower or moisten your dressing for 48 hours after surgery. Then, you might be ready to enjoy a complete shower or a shower below the waist. Still, you must consider the following: Wash with tepid water and mild, fragrance-free product, rinse thoroughly, avoid directing the shower flow at your reconstructed breast, and gently dry your incisions without rubbing with a clean towel.

2) After your shower, thoroughly inspect your incisions and discharge site(s) in a mirror. Then, cover your incision with a sterile gauze pad and wear your surgical bra.

3) Do not apply deodorant before putting on your surgical bra. The bra will prevent it from reaching the incision and causing infection. Additionally, it is crucial not to use deodorant on the afflicted part if there is a break in the epidermis.

4) Two weeks after surgery, you may shave under your arms with an electric razor on the affected side only.

It is crucial to consult your doctor whenever you have any concerns!


Writing was, and still is, my first passion. I love games, mobile gadgets, and all that cool stuff about technology and science. I’ll try my best to bring you the best news every day.

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