Reconstruction using tissue expanders

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cherylmadrid
cherylmadrid Member Posts: 6
edited March 2014 in Breast Cancer #1
I am considering reconstruction after six years. I really don't want the extensive surgery, so I've chosen tissue expanders with saline implants. Even though the entire procedure will take longer to complete, my real concern is how will they look. I've heard that silicone looks more natural, but my HMO will only agree to saline.I'm doing this for comfort reasons, but I'm so afraid I may be sorry. I'd love to hear from anyone about their own experience with tissue expanders. Thanks, Cheryl

Comments

  • jeancmici
    jeancmici Member Posts: 665 Member
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    You are still cancer free after six years. I can't imagine stressing my body in any way to disturb ANYTHING for an elective procedure.

    Cancer specialists still don't know all there is to know about cancers cells.

    Choice is yours - opinion is mine.

    Good Luck!
  • inkblot
    inkblot Member Posts: 698 Member
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    Cheryl:)

    I'm sure that some other ladies have a personal experience to share re expanders.

    I don't have one, as I had lumpectomy, but can share the experience of my good friend.

    She had the saline implant placed into the breast which had mastectomy and had her natural breast increased in size to match. She was small breasted to begin with and couldn't be happier about her decision. She sailed through the expander phase with no problems at all.

    I've seen the end result and it's really great. They're not huge...but a size which complements her build. Her surgeon doesn't do nipple tatooing, so he talked her into his more natural approach...taking skin from the inside of her thigh and making the nipple. That was done about 6 weeks after the implants were done.

    The way the stitching was done, it looks much like a natural aerola. She has no complaints. Her hubby thinks it's fine. He's very supportive and wanted her to do whatever made her happy. We work out together and she's hardly missed a beat due to the reconstruction.

    After six years time, it may be helpful to get 2 or 3 opinions from different doctor's about it. See what they suggest and what their patients' results have been, in time frames similar to your own. Just take your time and consider the different opinions and then see if you feel the same motivations. I'm sure it's not an easy decision to make and it's good to get all the info you can now, rather than after the fact.

    Whatever you decide, Good Luck!

    Love, light and laughter,
    Inkblot
  • ktinkey
    ktinkey Member Posts: 170
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    Cheryl,

    I had my tissue expander and reconstruction done in Jan 1990. I couldn't be happier. My implant is silicone, but my plastic surgeon uses saline all the time now. I know my plastic surgeon will give you names and phone numbers of ladies to call who have had the procedure. Hopefully, your surgeon will too. Please ask or ask around at a cancer support group. This is a decision that you can't enter into lightly. I wish you all the luck and if you need to talk further or have more questions, you can always e-mail me on the site. I would be glad to help in any way I can.

    God Bless,
    Kathy
  • cherylmadrid
    cherylmadrid Member Posts: 6
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    inkblot said:

    Cheryl:)

    I'm sure that some other ladies have a personal experience to share re expanders.

    I don't have one, as I had lumpectomy, but can share the experience of my good friend.

    She had the saline implant placed into the breast which had mastectomy and had her natural breast increased in size to match. She was small breasted to begin with and couldn't be happier about her decision. She sailed through the expander phase with no problems at all.

    I've seen the end result and it's really great. They're not huge...but a size which complements her build. Her surgeon doesn't do nipple tatooing, so he talked her into his more natural approach...taking skin from the inside of her thigh and making the nipple. That was done about 6 weeks after the implants were done.

    The way the stitching was done, it looks much like a natural aerola. She has no complaints. Her hubby thinks it's fine. He's very supportive and wanted her to do whatever made her happy. We work out together and she's hardly missed a beat due to the reconstruction.

    After six years time, it may be helpful to get 2 or 3 opinions from different doctor's about it. See what they suggest and what their patients' results have been, in time frames similar to your own. Just take your time and consider the different opinions and then see if you feel the same motivations. I'm sure it's not an easy decision to make and it's good to get all the info you can now, rather than after the fact.

    Whatever you decide, Good Luck!

    Love, light and laughter,
    Inkblot

    Thanks so much for sharing your information. Good idea to get another opinion.
    Cheryl
  • cherylmadrid
    cherylmadrid Member Posts: 6
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    jeancmici said:

    You are still cancer free after six years. I can't imagine stressing my body in any way to disturb ANYTHING for an elective procedure.

    Cancer specialists still don't know all there is to know about cancers cells.

    Choice is yours - opinion is mine.

    Good Luck!

    Good point...I hadn't thought of it that way. Thanks for your input. Cheryl
  • cherylmadrid
    cherylmadrid Member Posts: 6
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    ktinkey said:

    Cheryl,

    I had my tissue expander and reconstruction done in Jan 1990. I couldn't be happier. My implant is silicone, but my plastic surgeon uses saline all the time now. I know my plastic surgeon will give you names and phone numbers of ladies to call who have had the procedure. Hopefully, your surgeon will too. Please ask or ask around at a cancer support group. This is a decision that you can't enter into lightly. I wish you all the luck and if you need to talk further or have more questions, you can always e-mail me on the site. I would be glad to help in any way I can.

    God Bless,
    Kathy

    Kathy
    Thank you for sharing with me. You are right, this isn't an easy decision. I'm glad to hear you've had such a positive experience with yours. Thanks for your offer to help. I really appreciate it.
    Cheryl
  • comom
    comom Member Posts: 46
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    Hi Cheryl,
    I had a double mastectomy with immediate reconstruction last Oct 2001. I had the tissue expanders first then opted for Silicone implants. The expanders are uncomfortable because they have a hard backing that lies against your chest wall. They actually are more uncomfortable after the swelling goes down. The good news is, they are temporary. Do not get discouraged during the expansion phase. The biggest problem I had was sleeping. I have always been a side/stomach sleeper. I could not sleep on my side with the expanders - it was too uncomfortable. Since the expanders are saline, I was able to get an idea of what they would be like. I did not like the rippling and the watery feeling. I did alot of reading and research regarding the safety of Silicone. I know there is a lot of disagreement about using silicone, but I decided it was the right choice for me. I am very happy with the results. If your interested there is a web site for Mcghan Medical that lists plastic surgeons by state that are affiliated with the adjunct study for silicone implants. The site also has info about saline implants. For example, shaped vs round.
    Good luck. Let me know if you have any questions.
    Trina
  • karbear
    karbear Member Posts: 163
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    Cheryl, I too am facing reconstruction on April 23, its something I really want to do but I'm totally scared at the same time. I have met with my plastic surgeon and he recommends silicone, also told me its more natural looking and feeling, I was worried because of all the negatives about silicone but it is completely safe (from all the research I have done) and I trust him 100 percent. I have heard alot of stories of the pain after the expanders are put in and I'm very nervous , my doctor leaves them in 6 months !! Its terrible all we have gone through , I finished chemo in Sept. and the worst complaint I have is being very tired still. I need to take a nap in mid afternoon,even a 15 minute one just to re-energize ! Best of luck to you, I'll keep you posted on my experience through it all... God Bless ..Karin
  • cherylmadrid
    cherylmadrid Member Posts: 6
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    karbear said:

    Cheryl, I too am facing reconstruction on April 23, its something I really want to do but I'm totally scared at the same time. I have met with my plastic surgeon and he recommends silicone, also told me its more natural looking and feeling, I was worried because of all the negatives about silicone but it is completely safe (from all the research I have done) and I trust him 100 percent. I have heard alot of stories of the pain after the expanders are put in and I'm very nervous , my doctor leaves them in 6 months !! Its terrible all we have gone through , I finished chemo in Sept. and the worst complaint I have is being very tired still. I need to take a nap in mid afternoon,even a 15 minute one just to re-energize ! Best of luck to you, I'll keep you posted on my experience through it all... God Bless ..Karin

    Karin...I'll keep good thoughts for you on your reconstruction on the 23rd of April. Mine is scheduled for April 26th, but since Kaiser won't do the silicone, I'm starting to wonder if I really want to go ahead with this. From what my plastic surgeon says, they won't look like normal breasts with saline implants. They will look more like something just "stuck" on my chest. That doesn't sound too great. He's putting together some pictures for me to look at.
    He also told me that silicone will be back on the market in about four years. I agree with your opinion. I believe they are safe, too. I sure understand your complaint about still being tired after chemo. I was too. It will be six years this June since my last treatment. Believe it or not, I've seen a big difference in my energy level even as recent as these last two years. I used to really have to pace myself more than I need to now. Thanks for sharing with me, I really appreciate it. I'd love to hear all about your experience as it happens.Best of luck...Cheryl
  • cherylmadrid
    cherylmadrid Member Posts: 6
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    comom said:

    Hi Cheryl,
    I had a double mastectomy with immediate reconstruction last Oct 2001. I had the tissue expanders first then opted for Silicone implants. The expanders are uncomfortable because they have a hard backing that lies against your chest wall. They actually are more uncomfortable after the swelling goes down. The good news is, they are temporary. Do not get discouraged during the expansion phase. The biggest problem I had was sleeping. I have always been a side/stomach sleeper. I could not sleep on my side with the expanders - it was too uncomfortable. Since the expanders are saline, I was able to get an idea of what they would be like. I did not like the rippling and the watery feeling. I did alot of reading and research regarding the safety of Silicone. I know there is a lot of disagreement about using silicone, but I decided it was the right choice for me. I am very happy with the results. If your interested there is a web site for Mcghan Medical that lists plastic surgeons by state that are affiliated with the adjunct study for silicone implants. The site also has info about saline implants. For example, shaped vs round.
    Good luck. Let me know if you have any questions.
    Trina

    Trina..Thanks for sharing with me. I'm so glad you are happy with your results. I, too, feel silicone is the best for me. At first my doc said I could get silicone, it takes more paperwork, but I could have them. Then when I went back to him for a 2nd consult, he told me Kaiser won't do silicone. If that's what I want, I'll have to have them done privately.I was so excited between my 1st and 2nd consult. What a let down. Mainly, because he said with saline implants they won't look like a normal breast, they will look like something "stuck" up on my chest. So, I'm not sure what to do. Thank you so much for the web site info. I will check it out right away. Thanks again......Cheryl
  • comom
    comom Member Posts: 46
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    Trina..Thanks for sharing with me. I'm so glad you are happy with your results. I, too, feel silicone is the best for me. At first my doc said I could get silicone, it takes more paperwork, but I could have them. Then when I went back to him for a 2nd consult, he told me Kaiser won't do silicone. If that's what I want, I'll have to have them done privately.I was so excited between my 1st and 2nd consult. What a let down. Mainly, because he said with saline implants they won't look like a normal breast, they will look like something "stuck" up on my chest. So, I'm not sure what to do. Thank you so much for the web site info. I will check it out right away. Thanks again......Cheryl

    Cheryl,
    It may be worth calling your insurance company to see if they will cover the costs of the operating room, surgeon fee, etc... then ask them if you can absorb the cost of the Silicone implants. Luckily, BCBS covered the cost of my implants. If they had not, I would have paid out of pocket for them before going with the Saline. My plastic surgeon was really helpful in sifting thru the red tape. Request that your doctor submit a 'pre-determination charge for service' form to see what will or will not be covered.
    Keep me posted and good luck!!!
    Trina
  • maggie24
    maggie24 Member Posts: 3
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    Karin...I'll keep good thoughts for you on your reconstruction on the 23rd of April. Mine is scheduled for April 26th, but since Kaiser won't do the silicone, I'm starting to wonder if I really want to go ahead with this. From what my plastic surgeon says, they won't look like normal breasts with saline implants. They will look more like something just "stuck" on my chest. That doesn't sound too great. He's putting together some pictures for me to look at.
    He also told me that silicone will be back on the market in about four years. I agree with your opinion. I believe they are safe, too. I sure understand your complaint about still being tired after chemo. I was too. It will be six years this June since my last treatment. Believe it or not, I've seen a big difference in my energy level even as recent as these last two years. I used to really have to pace myself more than I need to now. Thanks for sharing with me, I really appreciate it. I'd love to hear all about your experience as it happens.Best of luck...Cheryl

    tissue expanders
    Good luck to you with your reconstruction. I had the expanders placed immediately after my double mastectomy in April and will have them taken out in October and replaced with saline implants. I do not think that silicone was even suggested. I must tell you that the expanders are very uncomfortable and I wonder if I would go through this if I had to do it again. I think that my plastic surgeon overfilled me from the beginning though as I went from no chest to a D cup and have never had my first fill yet. I went back for fills twice and told him about how much pain I was in and he opted to wait. I had big breasts to begin with and do not want to go back to that again, so we will discuss our options. Everyone tells me that I will be glad that I did this in the future, but to be in pain constantly for six months is very draining not to mention going through chemo. It is probably not what you want to hear, but talk to your platic surgeon about the discomfort you will have. Might make a difference in your decision. Good luck to you.
  • Heatherbelle
    Heatherbelle Member Posts: 1,226 Member
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    maggie24 said:

    tissue expanders
    Good luck to you with your reconstruction. I had the expanders placed immediately after my double mastectomy in April and will have them taken out in October and replaced with saline implants. I do not think that silicone was even suggested. I must tell you that the expanders are very uncomfortable and I wonder if I would go through this if I had to do it again. I think that my plastic surgeon overfilled me from the beginning though as I went from no chest to a D cup and have never had my first fill yet. I went back for fills twice and told him about how much pain I was in and he opted to wait. I had big breasts to begin with and do not want to go back to that again, so we will discuss our options. Everyone tells me that I will be glad that I did this in the future, but to be in pain constantly for six months is very draining not to mention going through chemo. It is probably not what you want to hear, but talk to your platic surgeon about the discomfort you will have. Might make a difference in your decision. Good luck to you.

    expanders
    looks like this was an older post, glad it got bumped up. I'm planning on having expanders placed immediately after my mastectomy as well, I go tomorrow to schedule my surgery. I'll be getting the expanders replaced with silicone implants. It's funny, a week ago when I first came to this site I had no idea what expanders and reconstruction entails. Good thing I'm a fast learner. Good to hear other's experiences with them, thanks!
    Heather
  • Christine Louise
    Christine Louise Member Posts: 426 Member
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    expanders
    looks like this was an older post, glad it got bumped up. I'm planning on having expanders placed immediately after my mastectomy as well, I go tomorrow to schedule my surgery. I'll be getting the expanders replaced with silicone implants. It's funny, a week ago when I first came to this site I had no idea what expanders and reconstruction entails. Good thing I'm a fast learner. Good to hear other's experiences with them, thanks!
    Heather

    Expanders to Implants!
    Heather, I'll get my expander-to-implant exchange in 2 weeks! So excited. I, too, had expanders placed immediately after my bi-lat.mastectomy. They're getting quite uncomfortable now, but I'm still glad I chose this.
  • Larisa
    Larisa Member Posts: 7
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    Expanders to Implants!
    Heather, I'll get my expander-to-implant exchange in 2 weeks! So excited. I, too, had expanders placed immediately after my bi-lat.mastectomy. They're getting quite uncomfortable now, but I'm still glad I chose this.

    Boobie support when sleeping
    Check out the website if you want boobie support when you sleep. These things are awesome!
    It's called a Kush. I have one and love it. I still have my expanders in and I was having trouble sleeping. NOT ANYMORE!
    http://www.kushsupport.com/mm5/Why_Kush_Supports.html
  • Balentine
    Balentine Member Posts: 393
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    Larisa said:

    Boobie support when sleeping
    Check out the website if you want boobie support when you sleep. These things are awesome!
    It's called a Kush. I have one and love it. I still have my expanders in and I was having trouble sleeping. NOT ANYMORE!
    http://www.kushsupport.com/mm5/Why_Kush_Supports.html

    How long do the silicone implants last
    I was told the implants only last for about 10 years and then have to be replaced....what have your plastic surgeons told you about this?
    LOrrie