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Anyone's expander rotate? Swelling after Exchange

flowerpetal Member Posts: 7
edited April 2019 in Breast Reconstruction


I was wondering if any of you had this issue?  My Tissue expander rotated 90 degrees.  I understand that it is not very common.  I am not posting this to try to scare anyone, just to get more info. My PS told me this after the exchange surgery in June.  (He was surprised when he opened me up). I had an anatomical type, textured expander put in at the time of the unilateral mastectomy in Dec.  The rotation may explain why I had so much pain in my armpit area.  During the Exchange, The PS had to modify the pocket to fit the implant.  I have the 410 "gummy implant".  At ten weeks post Exchange, I have still have swelling and pain on the side of my breast and near armpit area.  The PS has put me on 1800 mg of ibuprophen and 800 units of Vitamin E per day to see if that will help the swelling and scar tissue.

I am not overly active, probably average -  but I was doing PT for a few months and I do have a Kindergartener :).  We do not know what caused the rotation.  The PS feels that the implant is set in position.  So have other folks had swelling last for months after exchange?  Some days are worse than others.  any suggestions or thoughts?



    Wow, I've heard of implants rotating and I've heard of expanders moving a little bit but I've never heard about an expander moving as much as 90 degrees.  No wonder you had pain!

    As for swelling, I'm afraid I can't help.  I have a 410 gummy too but I didn't have much swelling, even right after surgery.  I do have a small bulge near the top inside of my implant but that's different.  With a gummy, the textured shell is supposed to adhere to the chest wall and the muscle - that's the means by which the implant is held in place and isn't supposed to rotate.  I believe that in this one small area, my implant hasn't adhered to my muscle, and that's why I have the bulge.  It's a little annoying sometimes but on the other hand, if I wear a push-up bra to raise my natural side, I have great cleavage! Wink

  • flowerpetal
    flowerpetal Member Posts: 7

    Just wanted to post an update.  I had an ultrasound in Jan, as a follow up.  No abnormalities were observed.  And the implant is in the correct orientation. I had been really worried.  Laughing  

    The pain has improved some, so I'm hoping with time, it will continue.  Long days are worse.  The swelling (& tightness) is still intermittent.

  • ctkgirl
    ctkgirl Member Posts: 1

    Yours was the only post I found that speaks to similiar issues I've been having post dmx. It's been just over 3 months since my exchange surgery and I still have swelling with minor pain on my chest and sides of my chest.  While it seems to be improving week to week, I am very frustrated that I can't exercise, lift, and sometimes even shower without the swelling increasing gradually. If I rest for a while, the swelling subsides. I worked with a PT just after my surgery for about 5 weeks and then was seeing an LE therapist who helped get most of my swelling resolved but not all. My tissue expanders did not rotate but they did shift upwards and under my arms quite a bit. I was curious to know if your swelling/pain ever completely went away and are you able to resume "normal" activities?

  • flowerpetal
    flowerpetal Member Posts: 7


    I have to say time did help.  When I get regular arm exercise, the swelling incidences are much less.  And I go up and down with that. Recently, I did some yard work - and I have to admit, I was pretty sore, and the inflammation in my armpit area was visible - but I probably used different muscles.

    My surgeons believe that I likely have a neuroma (a nerve that was cut/damaged during surgery  ) that is causing some of the pain.  Not much to offer there, but perhaps time.  My surgeon did offer a dermal pain patch, but I never went that route.

  • 05survivor
    05survivor Member Posts: 1

    After my cancer diagnosis in 2005, I opted for a left breast mastectomy w/TE and silicone implant.  Over a few months of filling the TE turned 90 degrees and moved up into my armpit. The PS performed a reconstruction revision at four months post mastectomy to move the TE to proper placement.  I continued with the fills and had the exchange about three months after the revision surgery.  Besides some rippling on the top of the breast, I was happy with the reconstruction.

    In November 2011, my PS replaced the left implant with a larger one to correct the rippling, and it now looks even better.  At this surgery, I also had a right prophylactic mastectomy and once again the TE has turned 90 degrees and is migrating up into my armpit.  This TE was different from the one used in 2005 in that it has three tabs the PS used to anchor it to the muscle.  Despite the new technology, the TE still moved.  My PS assured me that although this is rare, it sometimes happens, and there was nothing I did to cause it.  Maybe just my body type. So I will have surgery to move the TE, continue filling, and then have the exchange surgery.

    It's been seven years since my first mastectomy, and I rarely feel the effects of the breast and lymph node removal.  I would say that by two years after initial dx (one year after reconstruction completion), the tingling and funky sensations were mostly gone, my range of motion was 100%, as was my activity level, and I was even able sleep on the left side.  I do have a neuroma in the left armpit which causes some sharp but brief and random pain, and this is manageable with exercise, especially stretching and yoga. 

    My advice is to hang in there and time definitely does help as our bodies need that to heal.  We have been through so much, so physically we will never feel quite the same.  But as the years pass and you realize what you went through to survive this ugly disease, the physical issues just become part of a life you are grateful to be living.

  • breastfriend2u
    breastfriend2u Member Posts: 2

    I have a rotated/malpostioned tissue expander . I believe I left the hospital after mastectomy this way and that surgeon either overdisected pocket making it too big or put expander in wrong ( malpostioned) at time of placement. I have expanded in a very odd shape almost a sharp teardrop with point facing inward almost touching other breast expander. It has made this journey more painful and stressfull. I am going to go with round implant as I am concerned that my pocket is compromised and not ideal for teardrop. I am going with a different surgeon as well as I needed others to confirm what was going on.

  • Nikittana1
    Nikittana1 Member Posts: 1

    Both of my expanders have rotated and I think my left one has completely flipped over...I'm having my exchange surgery may 7th but not sure I can wait that long ..

  • Sunny18
    Sunny18 Member Posts: 2

    Nikittana1 - sent you a PM