3 years post mastectomy and i have finally had reconstruction. Has anyone had tissue expanders but in and does it hurt a lot?
Lots and lots of women have tissue expanders put in; and I think it's all individual experience, how much it hurts. Angi is our "expander expert" here, so I'll wait for her to weigh in... - PJH
Hi - I've had my expanders in place now for a total of 1 1/2 years...the reason so long was because I had surgery in Feb. to switch them out for larger expanders and found out my cancer returned. Anyway since then I have not had a fill, and have been through radiation - and YES my expanders hurt like hell. My L is sitting too low and towards my arm pit. It's rubbing on my rib and is killing me. The R where I had radiation is too inwards and a bit high, and YES it hurts too, but could be a result from radiation shrinking the skin. I cannot wait to fill them and have them switched, but I'm waiting to find out if I will be doing chemo. I had a PET on the 30th and hope to know soon!
However if you;re asking does it hurt to have them put in and go through the process - the answer would be no, not much. The fills don't really hurt despite it being a large needle pushed through your chest muscle. You feel a little "tight" for a couple days - surgery to place them is less painful than a mastectomy. Start to finish it shouldn't take longer than 3 months unless you've had extenuating circumstances such as myself or nanette. I've experience a failure on each side due to dying tissue and suffered a quarter size hole in my chest for 3 months. So make sure to clean it and use bacitracin. It really isn't bad and in the end you'll have perfect boobs.
Please keep in touch and feel free to ask as many questions as you need. I've nearly been through it all!
Hi...I had my expanders in since Dec. 1st, and one fill. Everything has been going great...no pain at all with the expanders and no pain with the fill...I will be having another fill on Tue...Best of luck to you!
hello im nanette i was diagnosed in june of 2007 with breast cancer. i still have it in, the expander, as im fighting the hospital to get it removed and replaced with a PERMANENT implant. anyways, i wanted you to know ive had no problems with my expander. you asked about pain, after all i went through with surgery, it was an inconvenience to me lol to have to go once a week to have it filled. no problems. just in the hospital trying to leave it in permanently. God Bless you. its not so bad. you are blessed with good insurance. nanette
I just got breast expanders and they hurt. I cannot get a good night sleep. I cannot get myself out of bed without help. It burns under my arms and feels like my chest is going to break. I have pain meds but when they wear off it is terrible. If I had know I would have consider other options. This is too much pain. If you are considering breast expanders ask the doctor about the pain expecially if you had radiation.
Hurting but still Blessed!
Some women do have a severe reaction to expanders - and it sounds like, unfortunately, you're one of these women who experience a lot of pain. I surely hope it abates soon; and that, at the end of the day, it'll prove worth what you're going through. Sendng you wishes for healing - PJH
Hi, my name is Ada and on Dec. 28th, 2011 I had double mastectomy and had expander put into both my breast. It has hurt like crazy. The pain has been unbearable and I've had to take pain medication every 4 hours or less because I couldn't stand the pain. Now that 2 weeks has past since surgery I am still in pain and wished I didn't have these expander inside of me. I feel that they are poking inside my rib cage and my chest and under arms hurt so bad I wish I can move them elsewhere. I have no idea how long this agony will be but I hope that at the end it was worth it. This is my second time around with cancer and the first time I had radiation, chemo and a lumpectomy, this time double mastectomy, will have chemo and then complete the reconstruction. Praying that everything will be ok. I do not want to seem negative but I just want to be realistic...and the reality is that it does hurt and a lot. If I had to do this again believe me I won't be voluntering for anything in the world. Rather be flat that in pain.
Ada, have you had your first fill? Maybe that would shift the expanders enough that they're pressing on different spots; it seems like they must be hitting nerves or something, because the agony you describe isn't normal. Are they waiting to do the fills till after chemo? What does your surgeon say about this?
Remember, at any point the pain gets too severe, you can stop the process and have them removed. Something to think about, if you simply can't stand it anymore... I'm sorry you're having to go through this. PJH
Thanks for your comment. I still have 3 drains inside of me. They took one out because it was not draining any longer. Everything hurts and feels unconfortable. They have not started filling in the expanders yet. I am supposed to get chemo soon but I believe the plastic surgeon said he was going to start filling them up little by little...like 30 cc or something like that. I can't remember if he said as soon as the drains were out. I just feel that I have a big plastic inside of me and its pressing against my chest and ribs and of course under my arms and it really is unconfortable and painful. I am taking oxycodone every 4 hours sometimes before, and also a muscle relaxer. But it seems that the more medication I take the more I needed. When the medication wears off is then when I start feeling the pain and pressure more than anything. I know these things do not belong in there and that is probably why I feel the way I feel. Hopefully in the next couple weeks the pain will be less and I will start feeling better. Another thing that is very painful is the numbness under the arms and the burning sensation..it hurts and makes me feel sick. I wonder if I will ever feel like myself again. You mention if at any point the pain gets too severe can stop the process and have them removed....I will by so undecided on that since I have gone through all this pain or lets say the worst pain at the beggining and then remove them after all will be like suffering in vain and then go through another surgery to removed them...I don't know. I will have to think about it. I appreciate you writing about this and if you have any other idea let me know. Did you go through this too? I would like to know if you care to share it with me. AR
Ada, I didn't go through this myself; I had a TRAM reconstruction, using belly fat. It was nothing like the discomfort you describe, so I can only sympathize with you... Iknow wha tyou mean about not wanting to go back; you've been through all this pain already, it would be a shame if it were all for nothing. Keep it in the back of your mind as an option. Spometimes just knowing you have an out helps you get through something difficult.
You know, a good deal of this pain, including the burning under your arms, could be from the mastectomy itself. A mastectomy is no walk in the park; it's major surgery. Perhaps as your body recovers from the surgery, it'll "accept" the expanders better. Again, keep in touch with your surgeon. If the pain keeps up, you might want to try some complementary therapies, like acupuncture or the like. Acupuncture is also very good for chemo side effects, so keep it in mind as you continue on with your treatment. Take care- PJH
Hi, thank you for responding. I really am glad to find someone that at least has gone through this journey and even if its a different one I guess we can relate to all this. I wanted to have the TRAM but the surgeon told me that he didn't think it was the best for me because having a mayor insision in my stomack and other things they mention...but I don't know if maybe they thought I was not going to go through pain with this one, and I still had a big insision in my back to remove muscle and tissue for my left breast since it was burned because of previous radiation. I still had to suffer from mayor insisions...I really do not understand, but tomorrow I am meeting with the plastic surgeon and I will ask him about that. Maybe the suffering would've been the same...who knows.
I hope that what you say becomes a reality and this pain and unconfortable situation lessen and I could finish the whole process because it would be a shame after all I've been through to remove them without finishing up the whole process. I believe that the Lord will give me streght and I will continue recovering and get to the finish line. Thank you for your advise and I hope you are feeling better after your surgery. Did you have your surgery recently? or its been a while? Well I hope you have a good night and hopefully we'll talk some more. Thanks again!
Ada, I had my surgery 9 years ago, so it's been a lonnnnnng time. And I didn't have any of the pain your'e descrbing - but we're all differet. You WILL get to the finish line - and I hope soon the pain lessens, and then disappears. God will give you strength, it's true - but it's just awfully hard to go through it. Take care- PJH
It has been a long time. I wish right now I can look back and say the same thing...that will be so good to not have to go through this pain. But in time I will be there. I am suffering from burning sensation on both my arms, but mostly on the left one since its the one that has gone through the most with the lumpectomy and radiation before. This burning sensation is horrible and add the fybromahalgia pain and you probably can imagine. I am so anxious for all this to be over. I still have 3 of the 4 drainage on me since I visit the doctor on friday and they still draining and he said they can't come out yet.
I will continue to visit the plastic surgeon every week until all this is over I guess. I have chemotherapy as soon as I am recover from this "nightmare" surgery and then after the chemo I believe they will finished the reconstruction. I just can't wait for the end of this and then find out how I feel then compare to now...haha! there is hope and I know God will see me through this. Thank you PJ and I hope we will continue writing to each other and that way you can witness even if its through emails...my finish line.
I'll look forward to witness you crossing the finish line, Ada. In the meantime - have you reported all this to the chemo nurse? Oftentimes they're the ones with the best solutions, since they deal 1:1 with SO many patients... Don't suffer in silence; ask everyone you can for help (including God); and hopefully help will come. PJH
This sounds like me. After a double mastectomy a year ago, with no need for radiation or chemo, I waited to heal a bit and then shop for breast reconstruction. I decided to go with the expanders and later, the permanent implants.
I have 2 drains now, post surgery, for 2 weeks now. Nothing below 25ccs, so they may not remove this week. The drains are becoming irritated, the skin probably sticking to the rubber tubing, and I am not looking forward to their removal because of my previous experience with pain having them removed after breast surgery. If I do not take at least 1/2 hydrocodone or 3 Alleve every 3-4 hours, pressure and spasms set in and uncomfortable presence of "something" (either the drains or expanders) becomes nauseously present. I have not slept a whole night and wake up in pain, if my alarm does not wake me in time to take meds. I fear addiction to pain meds, so I try to lesson their intake. It is so annoying, unpleasant and I often wonder is it worth it. Recently I noted the expanders sit rather high on my chest and the bottom breast tissue seems caved in and maybe the expanders weren't centered correctly? Aiyiyi. I am trying to stay positive and not cry. I look at the mess of my chest and wonder what the hell happened to me. If anyone has some meds to suggest for drain removal that REALLY works, please tell me.
Trying to look forward positively, but my stomach is becoming irritated by all these drugs. Ugh.
I'm just so sorry for you, having to go through this. Cancer is the root of so much pain and suffering. All I can offer is, each day you get through is one day closer to feeling good again. Time heals, it really does; but you can't skip over this tough part, you have to slog right through it.
Is your surgeon (or better yet, his/her nurses) aware of how much discomfort you're enduring? Also, now's the time to mention you don't like how the expanders are sitting, and you want to ensure that the implants will be placed where you want them.
I went the body tissue reconstruction route, so can't say I've been in your shoes; but I feel your emotional pain and frustration, and am sending you healing energy. Take care - PJH