• Breast reconstruction using tissue expanders prior to final implant.

    Asked by Mom2 on Saturday, January 12, 2013

    Breast reconstruction using tissue expanders prior to final implant.

    Hi all,
    Does anyone one have experience with tissue expanders? I am 5 weeks post (single) mastectomy with tissue expander placement. I am healing well. My question is, while I have this temporary expander, when will I be able to go back to normally lifting everyday objects and routine pushing and pulling with my arm? Also, when were you able to start any type of exercise program? I am not looking to start power lifting or train for the Olympics. I am just trying to figure out if and how this expander may affect my normal activity. Thanks and blessings to all.

    10 Answers from the Community

    10 answers
    • Nomadicme's Avatar

      I healed well, but I would say 6 weeks post mastectomy.

      over 7 years ago
    • Ajfunstuff's Avatar

      Since the surgeon will have to cut again to get the expander out and put the implant in, you will want to wait until your doctor gives you clearance to lift anything and he or she will tell you how much weight and how soon to do more. You will want to ramp up slowly. Even that gallon of milk or that fabric softener container will be too much. Patience now will result in better healing. Be good to yourself!

      over 7 years ago
    • gwendolyn's Avatar

      I have single expander, too. Ask your surgeon but mine said no strength moves for 6 weeks. Then, I started s-l-o-w-l-y, ever so slowly, to reduce chances of lymphedema developing in my arm. I had lots of PT to get my range of motion back. Start stretching as soon as your surgeon gives you the OK. I can't stress how slowly I've been ramping up strength-wise, even now, seven months after surgery but I feel good, really good.

      over 7 years ago
    • Mom2's Avatar

      Thanks everyone for your answers. I appreciate the information and hope each of you is doing well!

      over 7 years ago
    • karen1956's Avatar

      I had bilat with TE.....yes, you will be able to get back to normal routine once you heal from the surgery...I had chemo then radiation so I had my expanders in for almost 13 months before the exchange....Its going on 7 years, so I don't remember the time line though....

      over 7 years ago
    • MsScribe's Avatar

      I had a bi lat mastectomy with recon and tissue expandera done immediately. I did not have to get radiation.

      My doctor told me 6 weeks on getting back to exercise...I admit I was back on the treadmill at 4 weeks and on the elliptical without using my arms at 5 weeks....and my scars stretched accordingly LOL Exercise keeps me sane!

      My Plastic Surgeon was able to do a scar revision when he took out the expanders and put in my silicone implants. My scars still stretched because I do lift weights and row regularly...but thats the price you pay for fitness :-) I found exercise really helped with my mobility and range of motion on my arms. My docs commented that I had great range of motion quite early on in the process.

      I had my plastic surgeon do some minor lipo around the scars and implants to improve the shape...

      I think if you are feeling well and off pain meds then you should begin mild exercise as soon as possible...and your doctor will probably say 6 weeks.

      Good luck a remember to check with oncology and plastic surgery about your return to the gym.

      over 7 years ago
    • mamakas' Avatar

      I had tissue expanders on both sides and had 4 weeks off work. My job is very physical but I was fine to resume normal activity.

      over 7 years ago
    • Mel's Avatar

      Hi, I had bi-lateral mastectomy with recon tissue expanders. I'd say it was 6 weeks then I was back on the treadmill (slowly) and did alot of arm stretches. I still haven't gotten back into my yoga yet sort of scares me. haa haa.... I just had my expanders taken out Dec. 27th and implants put in so that is wonderful feel alot better getting those out. So of course I'm back at no running for 4 weeks and still you guessed it no yoga. Not supposed to do any major bench pressing as they put it.

      over 7 years ago
    • Mom2's Avatar

      Thank you all for your help!!!

      over 7 years ago
    • DaveWaz's Avatar

      Thank you for sharing your experience. I hope all is well.

      Your question reminded me of some content we have on reconstruction experiences.




      It also reminded me to let WhatNexters know about our Beginner's Guide to Cancer, including a guide on how women chose between a lumpectomy and mastectomy.


      Best of luck to all,

      about 7 years ago

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