Breast cancer expander problems. - SHARE Breast Canc...

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Breast cancer expander problems.


I was interested in hearing from anyone who has had problems with breast cancer expanders. Or people that have not had problems with expanders. Just your experience with them. I had my expanders put in at the same time as the bilateral mastectomy. I just had the right expander removed because of a bacterial infection. My doctors tried to save it by giving me an IV anabiotic in the hospital for three days but it didn't work. I had to have the expander surgically removed . I still have the left expander in and have to continue with the expansion on the left side. But I won't be having the right expander put back in until after chemotherapy is over.

So again I'm just interested in anyone's experiences in the expansion process.



8 Replies

Hi Tami,

I had a similar experience to yours, but with a single mastectomy on the left side. My left expander became infected due to an infection. My doctor tried to save it after 2 rounds of oral antibiotics. It was removed a couple of days after part of the expander pierced my chest wall and I was leaking lymphatic fluid. I decided not to try reconstruction again, and am very happy flat on one side (I wear a prosthesis in my bra.) with a cool tattoo covering my scar.

While you wait to try the expander again, there's a wonderful group who crochets or knits breast forms for breast cancer survivors, absolutely free of charge. They're much lighter and more comfortable than the expensive ones. Here's the link to Awesome Breastforms:

Good luck. Hopefully someone on the HealthUnlocked has experience with the expansion process to share with you.


Frome SHARE volunteer Vicky:

Not the same, sorry you have to go through this. Hope they quickly get the infection cleared up and you back on the path to full and "even" reconstruction soon! I was "lopsided" for about 9 months after a single mastectomy during radiation, before the final reconstructions could be made to match the 2 breasts. One thing that enormously helped my looks, and how I felt about myself, in that interim time was to get fitted at Nordstroms by one of their trained mastectomy patient fitters (free service) for a mastectomy bra and a prosthesis to fill the "other side". Temporary, til final reconstruction done. Can also make ones own "soft" prosthesis for the flat side from a knee high nylon stocking and some pillow filling, safety pinned inside the mastectomy bra pocket. Made me feel normal!



I had expanders put in when I had the mastectomy. They certainly are unpleasant! I had implants inserted in October. I developed an infection in the right implant in June and had it removed. I had the other implant removed in August. Too much aggravation, so now I'm livin' flat. Not going to get new implants.


I am so sorry to hear of your troubles. I hope all is going well for you now and that you are happy with your decision. I do have a question I hope you don't feel it is too personal. Did any of your doctors ever discuss why you were prone to infection?

Thank you,


Hi Tami,

I had a reaction almost 10 years ago to the expanders, too. My doctor thought it was an infection. I was in the hospital for two days and IV antibiotics for 10 days after. It was almost to the end. I was so red, I was worried the inflammatory breast cancer was returning, but 98% of my chest wall was gone! After all that, we realized it was my reaction to them. In a way like I was allergic to them or my immune system was reflecting them. I did not going out until 2013 that I have CVID Common Variable Immune Defiency, where my body doesn't make enough proteins in the blood fight off infections (so I got lots of sinus, upper respiratory, etc.) Any vaccines I got registered as if I didn't get them because my body fought them as foreign: pneumonia, flu. So, years later, for me, that incident, getting shingles, and cancer, things starting making more sense.

If you want more specifics, I'm open to chat...oh what a time!



There is nothing good about expanders! Ugh!!

I had an infection in my implant and then had both removed.

I did not do implants, I chose DIEP flap reconstruction, and it was completed in July of this year. For me, I think it was a great choice, my doctor is absolutely amazing and I am very happy with it. Got a “tummy tuck” too. Good luck with the expanders.

I have an expander in since 11/5 and keep having issues with discomfort under the once breast area. I have pain and burning in that location when bending over otherwise doing ok.

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