Why do you need to do tissue expansion for breast implants?

Last Modified: May 8, 2009

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Dear OncoLink "Ask The Experts,"

My friend had breast augmentation and they just put the implants without tissue expansion.


Rachel McKenna, MSN, CRNP, Nurse Practitioner in the Division of Plastic Surgery at the University of Pennsylvania Hospital, responds:

Placing implants after mastectomy is very different than putting in implants for cosmetic augmentation. When women have an augmentation, their skin and breast tissue are left intact. These healthy tissues are better able to stretch to accommodate and cushion the breast implant. After a mastectomy, your breast skin is very thin. The breast surgeon needs to make sure that all breast tissue is removed and in order to do this you are left with only a very thin layer of breast skin. This breast skin is not able to stretch in the way it needs to in order to accommodate an implant. This is why we have to very slowly and gently stretch the tissues using a tissue expander.

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