Tissue Expander to Implant Exchange - Description and Recovery

Board-Certified Plastic & Reconstructive Surgeons Serving Pensacola, FL & Mobile, AL

Posted: August 1, 2020
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Fast Facts:

  • Tissue expansion is the process of gradually stretching the skin of your chest to make room for future reconstruction with an implant or your own tissue.
  • Once the tissue has expanded adequately, I perform a second surgery to remove the tissue expander and replace it with a permanent breast implant.

Tissue expander to implant exchange involves removing the existing tissue expander and replacing it with a silicone implant, but could be a saline implant. So, we’re getting rid of the tissue expander and replacing it with a more permanent implant. This procedure is generally done through the same scar or incision as the initial mastectomies. Meaning, it doesn’t add any scars to your breasts during the tissue expander to implant exchange. The tissue expander is removed. The pocket is adjusted, if needed, with capsulotomies, prior to placing the silicone implants. Sometimes an internal Ryan flap may be performed to better position the inframammary fold or shelf for the future implant. Then the future implant is placed in the pocket and the skin is sewn up. And that essentially is a tissue expander to implant exchange procedure.

Oftentimes with this operation, fat grafting is performed at the same time to further improve the overall contour and symmetry of the breasts. Please refer to my videos about fat grafting to the breast to learn more information about that procedure and recovering.

 

Tissue Expander to Implant Exchange – Recovery

Drains: Generally, no drains are needed when I change out the tissue expander for a breast implant.

Showering: Following tissue expander to implant exchange, you can shower after 48 hours.

Exercise: You can exercise after 1 week as long as you’re not doing anything that involves bouncing. And I prefer you not do any exercises that involve your pec muscles for a few weeks. So, something like a stationary bike is a good thing to do initially. Assuming everything has healed up, you can go swimming, go underwater, after 3 weeks.

Supportive bra: You do not have to wear a bra if you don’t want to, that’s totally up to you. If I had to do lots of other things to control the position of the future implant, I may ask you to wear a specific bra to help support things while they heal. But under normal circumstances, following tissue expander to implant exchange, you do not need to wear a bra.

Wound care: As far as incision care goes, as soon as the Steri-Strips fall off, we’ll have you use paper tape to put on top of the healing incisions up until 6 weeks following surgery, and then you can discontinue the use of the paper tape.

 

More About Us

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