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Topic: Implant on an already radiated breast

Forum: Breast Reconstruction —

If you've had or will be having a mastectomy (or in some cases, lumpectomy), you're likely facing decisions about whether or not to have breast reconstruction, and if so, what type and when. Deciding whether or not to have a breast reconstructed is a very personal choice. Take the time you need to learn about how breast reconstruction might affect you, both emotionally and physically, before you decide to have the surgery.

Learn about different surgical options and the medical and personal issues around breast reconstruction.

Intro medically reviewed by: Brian Wojciechowski, M.D.
Last review date: November 22, 2020

Posted on: Feb 24, 2021 09:33AM

dontwantthis wrote:

I would love to hear from anyone who had a mastectomy and implant on a breast that previously had radiation.

I will be doing this, so all comments are welcome please.

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Feb 24, 2021 11:25AM LaughingGull wrote:

Do you mean you had radiation in the past, and now you will have a mastectomy and then an implant?

I had a mastectomy, then radiation, then a silicone implant under the pec muscle. Does that cover it?

I got an expander placed right after the mastectomy, then they filled it a couple of times, kept it for a few months, then replaced it with an implant. The only difference between this process and the one I had in the other breast (no radiation) is that in the radiated side they waited a few more months to replace the expander with the implant, to give the skin and tissue time to heal. To me there was no other difference. The plastic surgeon kept saying how the skin is thinner and less supple in the radiated side and things like that. But for me honestly there is no difference, other than I had to wait a few more months to get the implant.

Hope this helps


ACx4, THPx4, HP (to complete 1y); Nerlynx (1y); AI (expected 10y), Surgery: BMX + ALND, Reconstruction, Oophorectomy. Radiation. Dx 10/26/2017, IDC, Right, 3cm, Stage IIB, Grade 3, 2/6 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2+ (IHC)
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Feb 24, 2021 11:47AM dontwantthis wrote:

Hi LaughingGull,

That is exactly what I meant, I have a reoccurrence (or new cancer, Oncologist isn't 100% sure) in the same breast, now they are going to do a double mastectomy. The surgeon did mention that they usually do not do implants on a breast that was previously radiated. They have agreed to do the implant, so I am just looking for stories of how it went.

Thank you for responding, prayers to you.

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Feb 24, 2021 12:24PM LaughingGull wrote:

By surgeon, do you mean a plastic surgeon? A plastic surgeon is the right professional to examine you and evaluate the situation. Not everybody responds the same to radiation -patients can show different levels of damage from the radiation. The fact that they are considering it sounds like good news, right?

I am happy I was able to get an implant. I am very active and in and out of the gym and the swimming pool all the time, also very much into water sports. I fully accept the loss of my breasts, but to me, it is convenient to not to have to use prostheses to take in and out of my bra, be mindful of which bras, tank tops or bathing suits I use, etc. When dressed, I look similar to I did when I had my breasts, same in bathing suit or athletic clothes. This works perfectly for me.

I can tell you that I don't have any more tightness or discomfort, talking about the implant area specifically, in the radiated side compared to the non-radiated side. On the radiated side I have discomfort in my ribs and other tissues, but not around the implant per se.

ACx4, THPx4, HP (to complete 1y); Nerlynx (1y); AI (expected 10y), Surgery: BMX + ALND, Reconstruction, Oophorectomy. Radiation. Dx 10/26/2017, IDC, Right, 3cm, Stage IIB, Grade 3, 2/6 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2+ (IHC)
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Feb 24, 2021 12:50PM dontwantthis wrote:

Yes plastic surgeon, sorry I didn't specify.

I was given an option to use the fat from my belly to rebuild my breast, but the surgery is 12 hours, and it seemed a lot more invasive and a harder recovery, so I chose the implant.

Just curious, when you had the surgery did the expanders build any breast, or were they completely flat? I know that the psychological aspect of this is going to be difficult.

How long did it take you to recover after the surgery? I am hoping to go back to work, and I can't take a very long time off.

Thanks for your answers.

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Feb 24, 2021 02:32PM LaughingGull wrote:

The expander had some volume from the beginning, then they added more volume a couple of times.

It was not hard for me -my cancer was very aggressive and extensive, and it was a relief for me to see that breast gone and I was ready to get the surgery and move to the next step. I was thrilled to have some volume, then when they added more volume a couple of times and the thing felt like a big balloon that I started to tire of it, especially because in the end I was in the expander for like 9 months (because radiation was not in my plan initially but then it was added to the plan)

ACx4, THPx4, HP (to complete 1y); Nerlynx (1y); AI (expected 10y), Surgery: BMX + ALND, Reconstruction, Oophorectomy. Radiation. Dx 10/26/2017, IDC, Right, 3cm, Stage IIB, Grade 3, 2/6 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2+ (IHC)
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Feb 24, 2021 03:33PM dontwantthis wrote:

My cancer is aggressive but small, so my Oncologist says at least I have a good prognoses. Ironic that the last time I saw her she said "well I won't be seeing you again" So when I came to see her this time she said "Nice to see you again, well I guess not really" I said to her, don't take this the wrong way, but honestly I would prefer not to have to see you again lol (I told her I'm sure you get that a lot).

Still worried about how the expanders and implants will go, the plastic surgeon said that a lot will be revealed while I am in surgery. If they can't put the expanders in at the same time, I will have to go back in around 2 to 3 weeks for a surgery to put them in. I will have chemo, I think 6 months of Taxol, so I assume that they won't do the surgery for the implants until I am done with my treatment.

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Mar 9, 2021 05:51AM - edited Mar 9, 2021 05:53AM by hopeful23


I had lumpectomy with whole breast radiation 5 years ago and a recent recurrence. Last December I had unilateral mastectomy with prepectoral tissue expander placement. 150cc of saline was put in the expander during surgery (they had told me they would only put 50cc prior to surgery so was a pleasant surprise). I currently have a fill of 510cc and exchange is scheduled for three weeks from now. I was concerned about the previous radiation and an implant, although my plastic surgeon never seemed to be. Everything has gone well except for some nerve issues causing skin sensitivity after surgery, mostly near the tissue expander edges. I have no idea if previous radiation has anything to do with it, but it has mostly resolved. Best wishes!

Dx 9/17/2015, DCIS, Left, Stage 0, Grade 3, ER+/PR- Surgery 9/30/2015 Lumpectomy: Left Radiation Therapy 11/3/2015 Whole-breast: Breast Hormonal Therapy 12/17/2015 Arimidex (anastrozole) Dx 11/24/2020, DCIS, Left, Stage 0, Grade 3, 0/1 nodes, ER-/PR- Surgery 12/20/2020 Mastectomy: Left; Reconstruction (left): Tissue expander placement

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