The tissue expander approach for breast reconstruction is performed as a staged procedure to stretch the breast skin and tissue for placement of a permanent breast implant. Tissue expander reconstruction is currently one of the more common approaches and allows most women the option of implant-based reconstruction even if they are not left with enough breast skin at the time of their mastectomy.
Because a tissue expander is used to gradually stretch the breast skin and tissue for the eventual placement of an implant, most women who plan to undergo a mastectomy can benefit from this approach. Women who are wanting an implant-based reconstruction, but are not left with sufficient breast skin and tissue at the time of their mastectomy for a direct-to-implant approach may consider this staged tissue expander approach.
Dr. Savalia will speak with you and your breast cancer surgeon to determine the best approach for your reconstruction. In many cases, it comes down to personal preference whether a woman would rather have reconstruction with a flap or implant technique. Implant reconstruction is a popular and safe choice for women who prefer simpler solution with a wide array of options in terms of final breast size. Because implants don’t last forever, there may be a need to undergo replacement surgery in the future.
Compared to flap surgery techniques, implant-based reconstruction may require fewer surgical operations, and has a shorter recovery period because tissue is not being taken from other areas of the body to form the new breast. If you like the idea of an implant-based reconstruction, I am happy to consult with you more about this option.
Dr. Savalia will work together with your breast surgeon to perform the tissue expander reconstruction at the same time as your mastectomy. Once the affected skin and tissue is removed, Dr. Savalia will insert a tissue expander, placed within the chest wall.
In cases where reconstruction will be needed in only one breast, many women choose to add an implant and/or perform a breast lift procedure on the breast not affected by cancer in order to improve symmetry between their breasts. This is often performed when the tissue expander is traded out for your final implant.
When you wake up from your surgery, you will notice an immediate breast contour. Over time, the tissue expander will be slowly filled with saline injections (typically at intervals of about 1-2 weeks) in order to expand the surrounding skin and tissue to make room for a permanent breast implant. This staged, incremental approach allows for less pain than other reconstructive procedures but will require regular visits with Dr. Savalia.
Once the goal shape is achieved, Dr. Savalia will then replace the tissue expander with a permanent implant of your choice. Both silicone and saline implants are proven safe and approved by the FDA for breast enhancement and reconstruction. At this surgery, fat grafting is also usually performed to aid in improving the contours of the breast and creating a smoother appearance.
If you have questions about breast reconstruction, my staff and I are happy to help. By working with a team of Southern California's most experienced breast reconstruction surgeons, radiologists, and nurses, we are able to provide women with the best possible options for one of the most life-changing and rewarding surgeries. Please contact us online or call (949) 759-0980 for more information.
Dr. Savalia is known for the most innovative, advanced breast reconstruction techniques. He is a board certified plastic surgeon and artist who creates the most natural, elegant, personalized aesthetic results. He is as renown for his care and compassion as he is for extraordinary outcomes. This is why he was named one of Orange County’s Physicians of Excellence by his peers.
Dr. Savalia’s Breast Health Center team includes the finest oncologists, radiation specialists, geneticists, and nurse navigators. Being cared for by an established team is a great advantage for patients.
"I prefer a light-handed approach that leaves my patients looking visibly rejuvenated, not surgically enhanced."