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Pec tear during expander placement, anyone?

js44 Member Posts: 11
edited September 2022 in Breast Reconstruction

I had a mastectomy 4 wks ago, and during the expander (under pec) placement procedure suffered two tears to the pec muscle. It has been excruciatingly painful since, and any activity just aggravates it. There is no way I’ll be able to tolerate expansions, especially while dealing with chemo. I’m going to discuss having the expander removed at my next appointment. I would rather go flat than endure any more of this. Anyone else had tears to the pec during expander placement? Thanks.


  • mavericksmom
    mavericksmom Member Posts: 1,047

    I can’t believe nobody commented here! Surely someone else has had this problem. I am getting a mastectomy with expander in October. I won’t know if mine will me under or over the muscle until my pre-op visit in September, but I have shoulder replacements in both shoulders so it better be on top of the muscle!

    I had spasms in my pectoral muscles following the first mammogram after my shoulder replacement. The pain kept increasing with time until I was literally screaming out in pain! It felt like Charlie horses in my chest/breast area! It kept getting worse! That was before my mastectomy in 2019 on that same side. I remember the pain and I feel SO SORRY for you! I ended up having a mastectomy with DIEP, so no implant. I still get periodic spasms on that side but they aren’t nearly as painful.

    My upcoming surgery is obviously on the opposite side, but I don’t want to ever have those pains!

    I hope your doctor gave you something to help with the pain! I don’t blame you for wanting the expander removed!

    Please write hereagain when you feel up to it.

  • meow13
    meow13 Member Posts: 1,363

    Sounds extremely painful. Hope it heals ok.

  • js44
    js44 Member Posts: 11

    Thank you meow13, I appreciate your kind wishes

  • js44
    js44 Member Posts: 11

    Thank you mavericksmom, those spasms sound awful and I hope they don’t happen to you again. I will update here after talking to the plastic surgeon next week— hopefully he agrees to removing the expander. Take care

  • js44
    js44 Member Posts: 11

    An update on the expander pain issue: at a follow up with the surgeon this week, he said we could remove it but he would like to first try draining the 150cc of saline that was injected into it when it was first placed. I agreed, and wow was it painful! I barely made it driving myself the 30 minutes home after, and I cried and cried. Lucky thing I still had some hydrmorphone left over from the surgery. It was some of the worst pain I’ve ever experienced in my life— and that includes birthing three children, having wisdom teeth removed, breaking a few bones, and some previous surgeries. I am still bruised from the procedure. I have always thought I was pretty normal for pain tolerance, and the surgeon can’t explain why I’ve had such a hard time with the expander. He said if draining it hasn’t given significant relief in 48 hours (which is today), that he would get me booked in asap to have it removed. I’ll be calling as soon as their office opens this morning.

    He also said that removing it won’t guarantee me freedom from the pain I’ve been having— there could be something haywire with the nerve/brain connection from the surgery. I will take that chance, though. This will also pretty much eliminate the option of reconstruction for me, but it has been such a nightmare— I don’t want to take a chance at this point with also not tolerating implants. My body is saying No pretty loudly and clearly. I would rather go flat and focus on being healthy. Thanks for listening, everyone— and I hope this is helpful for even one person who is struggling with pain from a tissue expander— you’re not alone