• Has anyone else experienced having fully-expanded expander "unfilled" by the plastic surgeon at the request of the radiation oncologist?

    Asked by gwendolyn on Thursday, December 20, 2012

    Has anyone else experienced having fully-expanded expander "unfilled" by the plastic surgeon at the request of the radiation oncologist?

    I understand the reason: rad onc wants to get a more favorable angle so she can reduce radiation exposure to my lung. I appreciate this but, ugh, I am so uncomfortable again with the nearly empty expander in. I just spent 5 months getting it expanded and now I will have start all over again, after radiation, attempting to stretch less-elastic, radiated skin and muscle. I'm curious if anyone else experienced this re-expansion after radiation? How did it go?

    4 Answers from the Community

    4 answers
    • karen1956's Avatar

      I had 3 fills during chemo and after the last one I was absolutely miserable so had PS take 50cc out and felt better....only experience with this.....My Rad onc was okay with how I was expanded.....Is it possible to have a little saline put back in the expander to be a little more comfortable? Maybe somewhere between deflated and full?

      almost 5 years ago
    • gwendolyn's Avatar

      Karen, unfortunately, no. I had the re-do of the radiation set-up CAT scan today. Radiation oncologist is now pleased with the angles she's getting so I can't have any moving parts until radiation is complete in mid-February. I'm hoping things settle in and I get more comfortable in a few days. Thanks for "listening."

      almost 5 years ago
    • MaryMoo's Avatar

      I went through the same experience. The only time I ever got really depressed during my whole cancer journey (including chemo & the mastectomy) was the day I was deflated. I really felt like a freak. The thing that got my through it was knowing that my radiation oncologist (a woman) would not have asked for this unless she needed to maximize the chance of success of the radiation treatment. Getting re-expanded was not fun and I never got back to the same size (between and A and a B cup). One thing that I am convinced help me have the best outcome was a daily regimen of Qi-gong, yoga and meditation EVERY day immediately after radiation. I was fortunate to have the resources to hire a private yoga instructor to help me through this for the 6 weeks of radiation. Write me back if you want to know more about Qi-gong. I am fair skinned and I never even burned. So, even with this, it was still tough to re-expand. I think without it, it would have been impossible for me. The reconstructed breast looks okay, not great and is smaller than my other breast. It has been 4 years and I still go to a massage therapist one or twice a month. My surgeon did a partial latissimus dorsi flap because the implant should not be next to radiated tissue, so he built a pocket of unradiated tissue to surround the implant. You want to make sure that your surgeon has had experience with this because it is a difficult surgery and not very common. I was also lucky to be in Houston with world class surgeons and mine was very, very meticulous. I see you are in Boston so there should be an ample number of surgeons there with some experience. I wish you the best of luck.

      almost 5 years ago
    • gwendolyn's Avatar

      Mary, thank you for your detailed and empathetic reply. I share your attitude about keeping active during the treatment period. As always, it's god to know I'm not the only person to go through this.

      over 4 years ago

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