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Topic: Tissue expander discomfort

Forum: Breast Reconstruction — Is it right for you? Discuss timing and various procedures and techniques.

Posted on: Jul 7, 2011 02:29PM - edited Jul 7, 2011 02:29PM by mom23boys

mom23boys wrote:

I had a mastectomy 3 weeks ago.  A tissue expander was put in place for future reconstruction.   It is driving me crazy.  I feel sensitive weird pain.  I can't get comfortable.  Does anyone have any experience with this?  I feel like I have a frying pan wedged in my chest wall. I feel like I can't breathe freely.

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Jul 7, 2011 02:45PM shortlady wrote:

It does take a while to get use to the TE's.  But you do get use to them.  Depending on how your PS does the fills you will feel a little sore after each fill.  I had my TE's in for a year and a half.  Once I was filled the only problem I had up until my exchange was getting comfortable when I slept.  I had TE's that had two compartments in them and the bottom compartments had ports that were placed under my arms  so it was hard to sleep on my side for very long.  So, I slept mostly on my back.  

I also remember having a hard time taking deep breathes.  After my surgery they wanted me to breath deeply, but I avoided doing that as much as I could.  After a while that feeling goes away too.  

TE's have been referred to as: boobs of steel, cereal bowls, turtle shells.  This is the first time I have heard of frying pans. Smile 

shortlady Dx 7/2009, IDC, 5cm, Stage IIA, Grade 2, 0/6 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2+
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Jul 7, 2011 02:52PM sanbar8771 wrote:

Ugh, I am 10 days post po and my TE is really bothering me. I know I do not have any infections but it is stil sore. I want to sleep on my side and I can't. grrr...

Dx 5/7/2010, IDC, 2cm, Stage IIB, Grade 3, 2/15 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Jul 7, 2011 03:04PM Jamie30 wrote:

Ladies, I can honestly say that it gets better with time.  I thought I was going to die after my surgery because of the TEs.  Mine were filled to 400ccs at surgery.  For about 2 weeks afterwards they were tight, pushing in, and VERy aggravating.  The third week, I noticed that I could move a little better and there were not as tight.  I had 150ccs put in at my first fill and was sore for 3 days.  It felt the same as right after surgery but after that I was fine.  My PS does my fills every 3 weeks.  I was able to start sleeping on my side about a week after my second fill.  Last night was 3 weeks after my first feel and I woke up kinda on my stomach and was not hurting.  I was shocked!  I had my second fill today.  Things are a little tight right now but not as tight as the first fill.  I do find it kinda hard to take a deep breathe right after my fills but it normally goes away pretty quickly.  Things will get better soon, promise!!  I didnt think I would get to this point but it does get better!

Jamie Dx 4/11/2011, IDC, Stage II, Grade 2, 1/3 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Jul 7, 2011 09:06PM mom23boys wrote:

Thanks ladies.  Breathing deeply was impossible at times.  Sleeping is so hard and sometimes it feels like someone is snapping an elastic in my muscle. I miss sleeping on my stomach...well I miss a good night's sleep.  I hate this.  I hate this disease and all it's put me through.  I took care of every inch of my body.  I was so shocked when I got the diagnosis.  God bless us all in this battle to be alive and well again!!!

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Jul 8, 2011 11:38AM mom23boys wrote:

What kind of bra did you all wear.  I need something to hold up my right breast and hold in the expander.

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Jul 8, 2011 12:35PM tedmom wrote:

I had my mastectomy/reconstruction in March 2011. I have been getting fills in the expander and am really getting tired of feeling like I have a brick on my chest! My PS told me that women getting close to being ready for the implant always use the term "brick".  I'm having trouble getting comfortable at night and sleep is hard for me. I found some great "sports bras" in, of all places....Victoria's Secret Smile

 It's too uncomfortable to be in my regular bras but I'm hoping that after the implant, I will be able to wear them comfortably again.

Dx 1/24/2011, ILC, Right, 2cm, Grade 2, 0/1 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2- Dx 2/8/2016, ILC, Right, Stage IV, metastasized to bone, 0/2 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2- Hormonal Therapy Arimidex (anastrozole), Femara (letrozole) Targeted Therapy Ibrance (palbociclib) Radiation Therapy External: Bone Chemotherapy Xeloda (capecitabine) Surgery Mastectomy: Right; Reconstruction (right): Silicone implant
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Jul 8, 2011 12:51PM mamachick wrote:

Thought I would put my experience in here too.  I had TE's placed in Oct with a 200cc fill at time of surgery.  Then had 60cc's each week after that till 800cc total. I was large to start with.  I will say that the comfort level will get much better, especially since you are still fresh post op.  I did not have much trouble after fills.  I felt tight for a day or two, but never really had to medicate for it. You may always be aware that they are there.  I was, but I got use to the"rocks" as I called them.  Implants are much better. I was able to sleep on my sides for a little bit at a time, but had to get use to sleeping a lot on my back. Had exchange 2 weeks ago and they are definitely softer. And now can sleep on my side now that the incisions are healing. I actually did not wear a bra since I had a BMX and there was nothing else to hold, but a good sports bra is what you need. That is what my PS had me wear for at least 3 weeks after the BMX/TE surgery. Hope it gets better for you soon!

Stacey Dx 9/23/2010, IDC, 2cm, Stage IIB, 3/12 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2-
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Jul 8, 2011 12:51PM Kate33 wrote:

mom23boys- Did you PS fill your TE's at all the time of the surgery?  The more they put in initially the more discomfort you can have.  Most of it is from your pectoral muscles being stretched.  Someone on here suggested to me to have my PS prescribe a muscle relaxant and that helped a lot.  Mine prescribed Flexeril.  It is pretty inexpensive and didn't make me feel all loopy like the pain meds do, though some get sleepy when taking it.  If nothing else it might help you sleep better.  It also helps to do gentle stretching especially in a warm shower.  As far as bras what sometimes the TE's aren't really a natural breast shape so it can be hard to find one that fits.  I found what worked the best was a good supportive sports bra.  The good thing about stretchy sports bras is they continue to fit as you expand.  A lot of us have had good luck with some made by Fruit of the Loom.  Walmart sells them and they come in a 2 pack for around $10 I think.  Look for the ones that hook in the front.  So easy to get on and off and very comfortable.  I actually wore them 24/7 and I found I was a lot less sore in the morning.  No one really warns you what the TE's are going to feel like, and it's no fun, but hopefully you'll get through your fills quickly and be done.   (((hugs)))

Kate33 "Yes, they're fake. (@)(@) The real ones tried to kill me." Dx 12/27/2009, DCIS, 4cm, Stage 0, Grade 3, 0/4 nodes
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Jul 8, 2011 01:10PM mom23boys wrote:

Kate33, the PS put in an expander when I had surgery.  It was filled, I'm not sure how much.  That same day it was deflated slightly because the skin was too tight and they were afraid the skin would die. When it was deflated a bit, I had the most excruciating pain I ever felt.  It was sharp, screaming, searing pain.  I could not even breathe.  So she put a bit more saline back. That seemed to aleviate some of the pain.. They think the pain was caused by some sort of vacuum effect.  So I just ordered some soft sport like bras online.......I don't feel like doing a "granny walk" in a store to look for a bra.

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Jul 9, 2011 12:52PM mdg wrote:

It gets better...remember those TE's were placed underneath your pec muscle.  The muscle has never been stretched like that before.  It will take time to adjust.  I also suggest doing post surgery rehab exercises and stretches. I was given some by my Breast Center.  I have a booklet I can email if you PM you email address.  I did the exercises twice a day and started about 2 weeks post OP.  It was painful to do them but it was also trying to stretch the muscle.  I also worked with a physical therapist that had experience with MX patients.  That helped a lot.  My PS wrote the PT script and it was covered by my insurance.  I highly recommend it.  My PT could massage the tight spots where the pec muscle inserts into the arm pit and that helped a ton.  I can say by exercising I had very little tightness after time and before my exchange.  I just had exchange 2 weeks ago and they feel so much softer...you will get there.  I know it stinks..it will get better.  Hang in there....

Maria Visit my BC Blog at breastcancerwontdefineme.blogs... Dx 12/13/2010, IDC, 1cm, Stage I, Grade 2, 0/2 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 12/22/2010 Lumpectomy: Right Surgery 1/26/2011 Mastectomy: Right; Prophylactic mastectomy: Left; Reconstruction (left): Tissue expander placement; Reconstruction (right): Tissue expander placement Chemotherapy 3/2/2011 Cytoxan (cyclophosphamide), Taxotere (docetaxel) Hormonal Therapy 5/18/2011 Surgery 6/21/2011 Reconstruction (left); Reconstruction (right) Surgery 12/9/2011 Reconstruction (left): Nipple reconstruction; Reconstruction (right): Nipple reconstruction
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Jul 9, 2011 02:00PM BikerBabe1 wrote:

I struggled with pain during the TE phase of reconstruction most of the time.  But making a plan with PS about how to address it with appropriate pain medication was a good strategy and a muscle relaxer was extremly helpful.  Once I had the exchange and implants, I felt so much better.  Still have a little difficulty sleeping on my side due to the former drain site, but I can sleep on my stomach, YEA!

Dx 11/10/2010, DCIS, <1cm, Stage 0, Grade 3, 0/8 nodes, ER+/PR+
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Jul 9, 2011 09:54PM mom23boys wrote:

I saw the PS this evening.  She will fill it in August.  She told me it will feel better once she expands it more.  So I will suffer for a few weeks.  I will try some muscle relaxers. I am doing some stretches as well.  Oh I miss sleeping on my stomach!!!!

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