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What to Expect During Your Tissue Expander Fill Appointment PRMA Plastic Surgery

How are tissue expanders filled? 

Implant breast reconstruction is the most commonly performed method of reconstruction in the US. For most patients it is performed as a  multiple-step procedure starting with tissue expanders.

The tissue expander is either placed at the time of a mastectomy or any time later.

The temporary implant is placed either below or above the pectoralis muscle. The expanders are usually partially filled at the time of the initial surgery. Further expansion is performed in the office until desired breast size is achieved. This expansion process can require several weeks, depending on the amount of expansion needed.

Here’s what you can expect during a “fill” appointment:

Once the expander is sufficiently filled, a second surgery is required to exchange the expander with the permanent breast implant.

Have questions about tissue expanders or implant breast reconstruction?  Let us know in the comments below!

Author: Dr. Minas Chrysopoulo and Courtney Floyd

This expansion process can require several weeks, depending on the amount of expansion needed.

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12 Comment

  1. Mary Michelino

    Are expander fills in doctors office considered surgical procedures

    1. PRMA Plastic Surgery

      Good question Mary. They are not considered surgical procedures.

  2. Linda gibbs

    Are you able to work the same day after getting fluid in the expanders?

    1. PRMA Plastic Surgery

      Every patient is different, but in most cases patients are able to return to work the same day as a fill appointment.

  3. Kim

    I had a double mastectomy and I am going for my first expander fill next week and I am very scared that the needle will hurt. Please tell me if the needle hurts. Thank you

    1. PRMA Plastic Surgery

      Every patient is different, but in most cases patients are able to return to work the same day as a fill appointment.

  4. Mona

    I’m still numb on my left breast and feel nothing. I do feel a tiny stick for a second when they put it in the right one. But that’s all. I don’t feel it any more. I’m a weeny when it comes to pain and can honestly say, it is fine.

  5. Cindy

    The discomfort comes from the pressure when it gets filled but the sticking part I also scared of, BUT I felt nothing when the needle went in. Easier than my port to be honest.

  6. Tracey

    Very interesting! Thank you for posting this video. Do I need to take a muscle relaxer or Tylenol before my appointment? I’ve found out I have a high pain tolerance. I didn’t need my pain meds after day 3 or 4 after my double mastectomy.

    1. PRMA Plastic Surgery

      You shouldn’t need to 🙂

  7. Donna

    Is there a charge when a patient comes in for tissue expander fill?? If so, what code is used. Thank you in advance.

    1. PRMA Plastic Surgery

      Good questions Donna! There is not a charge for tissue expander fills.