• Starting Chemo with a deflated and questionable expander...scared of infection

    Asked by Canto on Saturday, February 16, 2013

    Starting Chemo with a deflated and questionable expander...scared of infection

    After 2 deflations and 2 restitches after mastectomy two months ago, the decision has been to proceed with chemo with the deflated (and uncomfotable) expander still hanging in there. My incision is still draining. My oncologist is leary of infection but said it was the surgeons call to remove it. I thought the PS could inflate during chemo but they said "no". I think they have been irresponsible and not upfront with what was happening. Has anyone ever gone through this?

    6 Answers from the Community

    6 answers
    • gwendolyn's Avatar

      Sounds like you are having a terrible experience. I hope your doctors are communicating to each other and not just relying on you as the middle man. Your experience will be much more frustrating and worrisome if they are not working directly with each other. My expander was inflated during chemo when my white blood counts were high enough, so it can be done. I was fully inflated by the end of chemo but then my rad onc asked my ps to deflate it again to get better angles for radiation treatment. I find that the deflated expander is the most uncomfortable thing of all. I wish you luck in your situation.

      over 3 years ago
    • Nomadicme's Avatar

      I was having my expanders filled during chemo, so you're correct in wondering whats going on. Maybe they don't want to delay your chemo with surgery at this point. Be patient, ask questions, and listen to your Drs. They will get your reconstruction right. Patience is the biggest help in this entire process. Hope it all goes smoothly, and know you'll get through this.

      over 3 years ago
    • karen1956's Avatar

      I had my fills during chemo....actually on the same day as chemo...only 3 fills in all.....there is a window during chemo to do the fills and day of chemo was the best day for me.....

      over 3 years ago
    • SusanK's Avatar

      I am sorry you are having this issue. My expanders were very uncomfortable and I didn't have any issues to deal with. I had regular fills during my chemo; I did not have radiation, so that wasn't an additional problem. It would help if your doctors communicated directtly or through their NPs or assistants. My insurance company assigned a case manager but I declined because she was assigned at the end of everything I went through. What about a nurse advocate at your cancer center or hospital? It sounds like you could use a knowledgeable third party to guide you for a bit. Wish I could be of more help.

      over 3 years ago
    • debco148's Avatar

      Yes, I did. My PS did remove some fluid, restitch 2x, then he told me that it would need to be removed and that is what I did. I did not realize how these fail. I had mine removed about 6 weeks after the initial mastectomy and expander was put in. I needed to start chemo, so PS said he had to take out. Then, I was put on a tough dosage of antibiotics. He did test fluids removed for infection and said there was none, but he did not want me to progress to chemo with this situation. Also, the window for proceeding to chemo after the mastectomy was slipping away (8 weeks max). So, I started with PS approval last May. I finished chemo, radiation and now I'm going back to PS in March. We talked about doing the DIEP instead of the expander and tenatively scheduled that for April. I'm not sure if I can put myself through that right now after all of this and just getting back on my feet. It is not good to start chemo if this is not healed.. push to get some answers from your PS. Also, ask the oncologist about the healing process while on chemo. I was told that if chemo kills all growing cells including the good ones like hair follicles, then the ones that are healing your wound would be in jeorpardy as well. You have to be your own advocate and really stand up for yourself. Best of Luck.

      over 3 years ago
    • LeslieR's Avatar

      Canto, I can only tell you what my experience w expander has been... infection on the right side 5 days out of surgery. Incision burst open on the left side after babying that side for over a month! Dr pulled the expander out in the office. I cried, not because it failed but because it was FINALLY out of my body. I went into chemo without expanders. Nine months later I found the Center for Restorative Breast Surgery in New Orleans. My own tissue, I am so happy with the results.

      over 3 years ago

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