This week, Richard M. Kline, Jr., MD, of The Center for Natural Breast Reconstruction answers your question about breast reconstruction.
Question: How long should you have a breast expander in?
Answer: There is no “one size fits all” answer to your question.
In many cases, expansion can be achieved, and the permanent implant placed, in 2-3 months (more commonly 3).
In other cases, expansion may take longer, or sometimes other factors such as radiation may cause delays in removing the expander and placing the permanent implant. Whenever possible, however, expansion should be completed before the beginning of radiation, because the expansion of radiated skin ranges from difficult to impossible.
I do not think that having expanders in for long periods is likely to cause any lasting problem, although the chance of them deflating goes up. I met a patient recently who, for various reasons, had had an expander placed by another surgeon in place for 15 years. She appeared none the worse for it, we placed a permanent implant, and she is doing well.
Hope this helps, I’d be happy to chat with you if you wish.
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