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Expander fill frequency & how much do you get?

Heatherbelle's picture
Posts: 1227
Joined: Jun 2010

Hi! I just had my 3rd fill on my expanders, I'm getting 100cc every 2 weeks. I have annoying but not crippling pain for a few days after each fill, and a nagging, kinda "bruised" feeling all the time surrounding the entire expander. I have really big expanders in -so they hurt on my sides as well as in front. I still have, at my guess, 3 or 4 fills left - I'm not going for a natural type of look here ;)
My next fill is in a week and a half. I'm thinking about just asking my plastic surgeon if we can switch me to getting them filled every week, or even just getting more put in if I stay on the 2 week schedule. My thinking is, if I'm going to be in pain from this - not really bad pain but discomfort, I'd rather just have the discomfort a little longer & get it done & over with. My chemo is on an every 2 week schedule, I have 5 left. My blood counts after my 1st one (checked yesterday) are great so my Dr thinks 2 weeks rather than 3 will do me just fine.
So my question is, for those of you with reconstruction, how often & how much do you get your expanders filled? I really just want to get these filled up & replaced with my softies. I think I can handle the baldness better if I have my nice rack again :)
*hugs -just careful ones today!*

Jean 0609's picture
Jean 0609
Posts: 2462
Joined: Jun 2010

My plastic surgeon left it up to me. She said I could come every week or every other week. I went every week when I could. However, a couple times because she was away or I was away, I went every other week. I was lucky and had no pain with my "blow-ups". I had big boobs to begin with and had a lot of skin after my mastectomy. I got 100cc's in the beginning, but the last ones were 120cc's. Mine are done, just waiting for chemo to be done to exchange for the soft "gummy bear" girls. Can't wait! Hugs, Jean

Dawne.Hope's picture
Posts: 825
Joined: Sep 2009

But we already knew that! :)

Mine were every two weeks starting out at 50cc's and ending with 25. I had a break in there of about 4 weeks because I was in so much pain. That's great that you have that much skin. Mine was thin and they couldn't go that fast. As my expanders filled, there was less shifting ... but the left side always hurt more. Do take a muscle relaxer; valium or flexeril also some form of ibuprofen is helpful too with the inflammation.

You're on the fast track, girl. Remember that it is not a race and some plastic surgeon's believe the longer you can stretch the skin with the expanders, the better because once you take them out and put in the implants there is some shrinkage of the pocket. You can have the expanders in for up to a year (an awful thought, I know) so there is no hurry.

Take care,

Posts: 242
Joined: Apr 2010

I go about every 3 weeks and get about 60cc each. My PS used this schedule during chemo. I went in the day before my next chemo when everything was at its best. When chemo was done in July I asked him about a faster schedule but he said he liked this because it gave my skin time to stretch. I think I have about 2 more fills. The last one he asked me if I liked the size. I think I want a little more. My main problem is that with the expanders look so different different from my boobs. I've heard the implants look more natural. I don't have pain but the expanders near my arms are annoying.


VickiSam's picture
Posts: 9085
Joined: Aug 2009

with 120cc fills per breast. Tuff cookie or so I am told. Yes, I felt pressure pressing against my chest cavity for abt 24 hours, also had trouble sleeping - I never took any medication before, during or after each fill.

Slater my new boobies (even if there were tissue expanders) with expensive creams -- aloe, and vitiam E oils - at least 3 to 4 times day, and after each shower - which of course depends on my continued hot flashes that day.

And I agree with Janie .. the expanders near my under arms drove me crazy!

Vicki Sam

Posts: 75
Joined: Jun 2010

My PS is taking it slow. He gives me 30cc ea. per week. He told me he put in large expanders so I can go as big as I want. Ay yi yi! I just want to be back where I was a nice B cup. I've only had two fills so far. They are a little achey for the first 48 hours after then it's all good. Really hard to sleep with these hard things.

slynch's picture
Posts: 82
Joined: Apr 2010

My first two fills were 60 cc's each time. Not very much discomfort. My third was 120cc's each side. Considerably more discomfort. My 4th we could not put the full 120cc's and the 5th not the full 120cc's. 4th and 5th time very uncomfortable. I am only going for a regular B cup that I had before the surgery. The next time I go I think we are going to do the overexpansion and then in about a month do the exchange. Hopefully by the end of Septmeber, I will have my the "real girls". Can't wait. I think the expanders have been awful. Hard to explain to anyone how it feels.

hoop77's picture
Posts: 84
Joined: May 2010

Wow, you were filled a lot! I only got 30 cc's every week. One week I asked my PS if he could put more in and he told me to see how I did that fill and we'd discuss it the following week. Boy, was he right not to overfill, because I was in a lot of pain. Just take it slow, even though I know you want it over with asap. Now I'm at 270 and done, he says my skin just won't stretch anymore. My exchange surgery is Aug 26th and can't come soon enough! I hate the expanders and they too, even tho much smaller than yours cause me continual pain and soreness (feels like I'm bruised on my sides). My last fill has caused me the most continuous discomfort and I've had to resort to taking valium again to sleep most nights, but I'm sure the swap will take care of that. Hope you get there soon, it's an uncomfortable procedure but I'm so thankful that it's possible to make us feel like girls again. Take care and good luck!!

Sending soft hugs your way!

filimu's picture
Posts: 74
Joined: Aug 2010

filled every 3 weeks...
at first she did 100 cc each, then toward the end, it went down to 75 each. I would feel some pressure toward the end the first day or two after a fill as the skin needed to stretch, particularly on the side were the original masectomy was done, because more skin was removed there, and it had to stretch more. It was never uncomfortable unenough to need to take medication, but I found it uncomfortable to try to lay on my side during that time frame, that's for sure! And I HATE sleeping on my back! So I was tired all the time!

jo jo's picture
jo jo
Posts: 1175
Joined: Jun 2010

Everyone is different with different amounts they can handle and in a certain amount of time frame. You have plenty of time cuz you cant have surgery anyway till the chemo is out of your sytstem then they have to schedule your surgery which also takes awhile. The reason you dont want to go to fast when it stretches is cuz you can get stretch marks and your skin could get to thin and start having problems there or you could bust your incision open.
When i was in physical therapy there was a lady in there that i talked to cuz our appt's were always at the same time. She had really big boobs and her incisions opened 9 times...i really felt for her...but what was scary is that she was in a hurry to get her fills and her doctor just let her do what she wanted not advising her to stop or slow down...just use your best judgement, you know your body better than anyone but just dont get into a hurry about it. I know how you feel about just wanting to do it and suffer thru the pain rather than doing it slow and feeling the uncomfort of it but sometimes thats not neccessarily the best way. You have a good head on your shoulders im sure youll know what you can handle.
Soft hugs!

Heatherbelle's picture
Posts: 1227
Joined: Jun 2010

thanks everyone for your input. Maybe I'll just ask if maybe we can go up to 120 cc next time. My Dr was a bit generous in saving as much of my skin as he could at the time of my mastectomy, because I was a D cup to begin with, and wanted to go back to a larger size again. I think I'm just being whiny about everything lately - wanting to get back to normal. I don't look like myself anymore. My hair hasn't fallen out yet but I'm waiting for it in the next few days. My boobs are these big, underinflated rocks with flat spots on the front. I'm just frustrated that my life doesn't seem like my own anymore. I get frustrated that I can't take care of my house, my kids, and everything else like I'm used to. Ok there's my vent - sorry to boo-hoo all over the place this morning. The surgery really was the easy part in this whole mess!

VickiSam's picture
Posts: 9085
Joined: Aug 2009

as I have felt the same way .. kids, house, husband, family, friends all by the wayside - as breast cancer - apptin'tms, testing, prodcedures, chemo and surgeries are my new family and my new set of friends are the people signing me in, hooking me up or accessing my port.
Our lives are not our own -- we go into a slump or depression .. get medication to deal with either ..

Then we start the 2nd chapter of our stories ..Treatment has beden completed -=- we may face a surgery of two ... there is hope for the life we once lived .. then it hits US .. Post depression, what to do now that bc is behind us (okay, it's never behind us) .. but, what do we do NOW? Where do we go from HERE? any set of complications .. go figure as tho life as a breast cancer warrior wasn't hard enough ...

My vent story for today!

Vicki Sam ♪

cahjah75's picture
Posts: 2631
Joined: Jun 2010

wondering how you've been.... Sorry you're sore and feeling frustrated. I am too! I don't think I could've dealt with expanders and fills. You are doing so much. Let your body heal. Your girls will understand as well as your husband if you don't feel like doing much. You can vent all you want right here because we understand :-)

aysemari's picture
Posts: 1596
Joined: Dec 2009

Heather belle,

I got 120 cc's for my first fill and 60 cc's since, every week.

So that puts me at 240 each, I am thinking one or possibly
two more fills and I am out of there.

I read somewhere here that the implant come out smaller
so I may take that extra one. I figure the worst thing that
can happen is that I look boobylicious!

I love your honesty, you make me laugh with your story
about dolly parton and your desire for big boobs!


gelovime's picture
Posts: 15
Joined: Jun 2010

Heather, you were so nice explaining me about mastectomy, I am sorry you feel that way....
I am getting my hair back and getting ready for surgery, but let think everything will heal and come back with time!
I like to talk with my body when I feel this way and that really helps.
I hope you feel better soon!!!!!!!

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