Asked by Maggie
I'm Thinking Of Having My Expanders Replaced By Implants Sooner Rather Than Later. Is This Possible?
I had a bilateral mastectomy 2 1/2 weeks ago, and had expanders put in at that time, prior to receiving implants in a few months. I'm finding the expanders incredibly painful. I'm due to begin chemo soon, and understand this will prevent any exchange of expanders for implants until after it's done. The thought of another 4 1/2 (possibly more) months of this pain fills me with dread. Any advice?
First of all, I'm sorry you're having to go through so much pain from the expander. Many women do find this process extremely painful - much more uncomfortable than they were led to believe, so you're not alone. Please read our series on expanders and implants for lots of good information about the whole process.
Have you spoken with a physical therapist? S/he may be able to give you some exercises and stretches to help alleviate the pain. In addition, I hope your doctor has prescribed pain killers - over the counter, or even prescription - to help you deal with this. If not, ask; the best way to make a doctor understand your pain is serious is to say it's impacting your day-to-day life, and this pain sounds like it is.
For some reason, surgeons always seem to want to go the maximum route with expanders, giving women breasts that are as large as possible. If you're happy to have somewhat smaller breasts than what you and your surgeon had originally planned, then I believe it's possible to stop the expansion process and add implants at whatever point you like.
Your best strategy at this point is to speak with both your oncologist, about the chemotherapy schedule and the possibility of surgery prior to your start date; and the doctor or surgeon in charge of your implant process. Between all of you, you should be able to come up with a solution to this situation. Good luck -