What to Expect During Your Tissue Expander Fill Appointment

By: Courtney Floyd


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.

How are tissue expanders filled? | PRMA Plastic Surgery

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! 


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  • Mary Michelino

    Are expander fills in doctors office considered surgical procedures

    • PRMA

      Good question Mary.  They are not considered surgical procedures.

  • Linda gibbs

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

    • PRMA

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

  • 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

    • PRMA

      Rest assured the needle should not be painful. Some tightness with minimal discomfort should be expected as the tissue expander is filled and the skin is expanded.

    • 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.

PRMA Plastic Surgery