Tissue expansion is a very common approach to breast reconstruction
. Very nice results can be achieved by expanding your own tissue to accommodate permanent breast implants
. This approach gives you a lot of control over final size selection, and avoids the risks associated with operations that remove tissue from other parts of your body to replace breast tissue.
If i understand your question correctly, you have already had a mastectomy, and are now considering having tissue expanders placed after having healed from the first operation. The operation to secondarily place the expanders involves using the same incision
made for the mastectomy, creating a space under your chest muscle (pectoralis major, or "pec"), and sometimes using donor material to create a nicely shaped lower breast contour. There is some tightness and discomfort associated with placing the expanders, and i typically recommend to my patients that they take about a week off of work. Most women who work a desk job can return to their normal job functions in a week and not require narcotic
pain meds during the day, but women who work more strenuous physical jobs may need to be off work or on light duty (lifting less than 15 lbs) for about 4 weeks.
Depending on your plastic surgeon's preferences, you will likely begin the expansion process about 3 weeks after the surgery to have the expanders placed. This involves coming in to your plastic surgeon's office every 1-3 weeks to have the expanders filled with a moderate volume of saline each time until you reach your desired size. The expansion itself involves minimal discomfort, as a small needle is used to access and fill the expanders. You can return to work on the same day or the day following your expansions.
Surgery to place your permanent implants can proceed about 8 weeks after your size goal is reached, and the permanent implants will feel softer and have a much more natural appearance than the filled expanders.
All the best to you in your recovery,