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Tissue expander and redness but cultures all show no infection

Posts: 1
Joined: Jan 2012

Last year I have my right breast removed and a tissue expander put in at the same time. All went well until a few weeks before I was scheduled to have the expander removed and the actual implant inserted. I developed redness on the lower side of my breast. My breast was warm to the touch, but I had no fever nor did I have any pain. PS sent me to an infectious disease doctor who said the only way to determine if infection was present was to remove expander and send it out for testing. This was done and everythign came back as no infection. We waited until everything healed and then two weeks ago, an expander was again inserted. I now have redness again at the same location, no warmth this time, no pain and no fever. PS is baffled as to where we go from here. Has this happened to anyone else?

Posts: 6587
Joined: Oct 2010

no advice just saying thinking of you..


VickiSam's picture
Posts: 9085
Joined: Aug 2009

your breast ...

There is nothing more annoying than losing our breast or breast to cancer,
and having to endure endless pain and suffering.

My story:
Family vacation to the Grand Canyon April 2010 -- finished dense chemo of TCH,
bilateral mastectomy in January 2010, tissue expanders fully -- expander
awaiting my exchange surgery - early May. Well on our last day -- I felt a
little hot as though I was coming down with a cold, within 2 days my right
breast was red similar to the color of a tomato -- and hot -- my temp rose
up to 102. Ended up in ER for what I was told was a 'staph' infection - MRSA.
As I am allergic to penicillium, I was hospitalized for 5 days -- emergency
surgery to remove my infected TE. Was monitored by an Infectious Disease
doctor .. and had to walk around for several weeks with 1 fully expanded
breast - and 1 flat breast.

Replacement surgery performed to replace infected TE .. and fills followed.
My incision on my breast was red, and sensitive. I felt relieved, but
scared. I showed twice daily, using 'dial' antibacterial foam soap - as
directed by my Infectious Disease Doctor. I was not allowed to apply an
lotion, Vitamin E or oils on my right breast for 6 to 8 weeks.

Please .Please call your surgeon and get a piece of mind. If you can not
get it over the phone -- please make an appointment and have either your
Plastic Surgeon, or Infectious Disease doctor take a look at you.

Best of luck, and let us know.

Strength, Courage and Hope.

Vicki Sam

jnl's picture
Posts: 3873
Joined: May 2009

I agree with Vicki Sam to please call your surgeon and to get answers. You need to know what this is and you need help.

Good luck and let us know,


tambow's picture
Posts: 44
Joined: Feb 2010

Hey Pinklady50!
I had a silmilar problem as you. I know it is nerve racking! I had BLM in 2010 with expanders placed 3 months later. Got nasty infection and had both expanders removed. That occurrence was one not to forget! All was good until the 3rd week after expanders were placed. I started feeling ill, noticed my breasts felt warm, the drainage had increased and had a strange color....more so on the rt side. Went to the ER later that day with a high fever and then 2 days later had the expanders removed. Lots of antibiotics and ~6 months later, we tried again with the expanders. This time, antibiotics before, during, and after surgery. All went well until after the implant swap was done. I began having some patchy redness on the rt breast and in between the breasts. (No fever, no warmth, though) The dr had me go another round of antibiotics, just in case. It took several months before the redness subsided. And to this day, I swear it shows up after I've taken a hot shower, but soon subsides. The dr. can't explain it, other than it's just my bodily reaction...maybe some kind of flushing effect. Any way, it has gotten better with time. All I can offer you is advice to listen to your body... I would think redness without obvious symptoms or indicators of infection (fever, bloodcount fluctuation, positive culture) would warrant removal of your implants again. Hang in there! Hoping the best for you!

Posts: 1
Joined: Jul 2017

You have been through so much. However, did you persist?

I developed redness, no fever, felt great; but I was put in the hospital for a week on IV antibiotics that made me so sick that I haven't eaten a full meal for a week. Sometimes I wonder if these plastic surgeons know what they are doing. You are brave to continue. I'm about ready to have them take the expander out and leave a neat flat scar. But then, I'm 73 with small breasts, a country gal, not married and could easily wear a prosthetic to the prom. (That was humor)

Posts: 16
Joined: Aug 2011

Yes,I had intermittant redness with expander and with implants. No fever, no infection, no drainage just sensitive skin. It eventually goes away. Good luck.

Posts: 1
Joined: Dec 2012

Did you ever get any answers about this? I had the same thing last year and again now. I had expanders put in at the same time as my mastectomy. Then I had to get chemo and started having the redness. We thought it was associated with my chemo. I received IV antibiotics for four days with no improvement. The expanders were removed and the redness went away. No infection was ever found. Now that I am finished with all my cancer treatment we are trying the tissue expanders again. I am now back in the hospital with the same redness. I sure don't want the expanders removed again. Does anyone know what is happening?

Posts: 1
Joined: Mar 2016

I have had tissue expanders since my surgery August 5th. This week I am having them removed and my implants put in. I have noticed on my left breast a rash like appearance. This was the "tighter" breast after surgery (where the cancer was). This tissue expander leaked a bit (and I understand that they are smart and will leak a bit to accommodate the space) and is smaller than the other. I attribute that to the fact that the space is less, even though this was the bigger breast to begin with. My surgeon does not leave much breast tissue behind! I do not feel there ever was an infection, however I have noticed that that area can become sore since I am sleeping every which way. I sleep on my left side, right side, stomach, etc. I think that pressure on the expanders and the fact that they don't move, may have caused this just from pressure. This is not dark red, only slightly red. In looking at it in a 10X mirror, I see redness in the pores and looking in the regular mirror only a slightly red appearance. MY PS said it is sitting right on my 5th rib and that is why I have felt discomfort there. I am having  "C" implants and currently have been expanded to 730 ccs (500 for the implants) so the PS has room to work.

This is my take on the "rash". I would pay very close attention to anything I thought was infection as I have had a knee replaced and have to be careful of infections.

Elaine_wi's picture
Posts: 78
Joined: Jun 2017

I have elected to have DIEP flap reconstruction rather than implants. Reconstruction opitons are a very personal decision and your decision depends on a lot of different factors. Make sure you have all the options available to you.

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