Implant Based Reconstruction
A tissue expander is a temporary device that is placed in the chest after the mastectomy to expand the overlying tissue to fit a permanent breast implant that corresponds in size to the breast removed. After the mastectomy is completed, the plastic surgeon creates a pocket under the chest wall muscle (pectoralis) in which a tissue expander is placed.
The tissue expander is a silicone shell gradually filled with saline (salt water). Every week or two during outpatient visits, saline is added in order to stretch the muscle and skin to the desired volume. This process usually takes one to two months.
Placement of a Breast Implant
After the tissue has been expanded, the tissue expander is exchanged for a breast implant. In some patients, placement of the implant can be done at the time of mastectomy without the need for a tissue expander. There are two types of implants: saline-filled and silicone gel-filled. Both types of implants come in numerous shapes and sizes. You and your surgeon will discuss the right option for you.