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All TopicsForum: Surgery - Before, During, and After → Topic: What to expect-exchange surgery

Topic: What to expect-exchange surgery

Forum: Surgery - Before, During, and After — Surgical options and helpful tips for recovery and side effects.

Posted on: Jun 10, 2009 03:56PM

pas wrote:

I am scheduled for my bilateral tissue expander to silicone implant exchange on July 2nd.  The bilateral skin sparing mastectomy wasn't quite as bad as I thought but the drains were really a pain!  I had them in for 3 weeks.  Anyway, I would love to hear any advice and input on what the recovery will be like after I get my implants.  I just hope they are more comfortable than these expanders!  When someone hugs me, they bounce off of me! lol  :)  


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Jun 10, 2009 09:43PM - edited Jun 10, 2009 09:44PM by geysermom


I hope someone answers you since I am having exactly the same surgery on the same day!  My TEs have been very painful but I only had my drains (4 of them) for one week.  What I have read on Exchange City is that the time of from work is a few days up until a week, and that the implants were much more comfortable than the TEs.  I'll be watching to see if you get any answers.


Bilateral Prophylactic Mastectomies for Diffuse ADH Dx 12/2007, Stage 0
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Jun 10, 2009 10:02PM Abbey11 wrote:

The exchange surgery is a breeze compared to the mastectomies!  My surgery was at 7:30 AM and I was home (20 minutes from hospital) by 2:15 in the afternoon.  The surgery took about 1 hour and 15 minutes.  I took pain meds for only two days; after my mastectomies, I took them for a month.  I had less pain after the exchange than I did after each expansion.  I didn't have drains; I think it would be unusual if you did.

I was told not to shower for two days and I went back in a week to have the nurse take off my bandages.  Then I was told not to submerge (pools, hot tub, bath) in water for six weeks - showers are fine, though.  I started driving a week after the surgery.

The implants are so much more comfortable than the expanders.  I'm very happy with the comfort and how I look.  Good luck to you both!


Diagnosed age 44 with BL BC Sept. 08; right side 5mm, left side 1cm. BL mast. Oct. 08, expanders, exchange to silicone implants Feb 09. Taking tamoxifen. Dx 10/2/2008, IDC, 1cm, Stage I, Grade 2, 0/5 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Jun 11, 2009 12:12PM kle wrote:

I just had my uni lateral exchange to silicone last Thursday.  Also about 1 1/2 hour surgery, home by lunchtime.  No drains.  And really no pain.  I had a funny reaction to the anesthesia this time, that slowed me down a bit the first two days, but I was back to work by Tuesday and really feeling and "looking good".    

you will be so happy!


Dx 7/24/2008, DCIS, Right, Stage 0, 0/2 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Dx 7/1/2016, DCIS, Left, Stage 0, 0/1 nodes
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Jun 11, 2009 12:51PM mawhinney wrote:

The exchange to implant process is much easier than the mastectomy. And you feel more comfortable since the expander is no longer poking you! I only took 2 pain pills mainly because I was told to take them ahead of getting pain. If you wait until you are in pain to take pain pills, it takes awhile for the med to take affect thus you are in pain longer.  Needing drains all depends on your body's reactions to the surgery.  I didn't have drains after the mastectomy but had swelling and was black and blue down to my waist so my PS put a drain in after the lift on my good breast which was done at the same time as my exchange.  Very little fluid collected in my drain so it came out in a week. 

Dx 5/18/2008, IDC, <1cm, Stage IB, Grade 2, 0/1 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Jun 11, 2009 02:41PM pas wrote:

Smile  Thanks ladies for your replies!  It sounds so much easier than I thought!  Wish us luck for no drains!


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Jun 12, 2009 07:21PM cookymkr wrote:

Hi ladies~ just home today from my exchange done yesterday. I will agree that the TE's, for me, were very uncomfortable, the "iron bra" feeling as some have described. My exchange surgery was 2 1/2 hours long, but PS did quite a bit of liposuction on the sides. I'm a bigger gal, and I had quite a bit of tissue/excess fat & skin that he removed. I told him he could go crazy with the lipo tool and if he happened to "slip", that would be okay. Darn! he left the other fat there! Since my surgery didn't start until 2:30 pm, I chose to stay overnight and make sure my pain was under control before being discharged. I'm glad that I did. My initial pain was an 8 out of 10 this time, last time it was a 12! So started off lower. Still had morphine until midnight last nite and then on oral pain meds now. I will agree that you should stay ahead of the pain, so it doesn't catch you by surprise. I have a follow up in 10 days and plan to be off of work at least that long!  Was told I could shower after 48 hrs, but only to run clear water over the incision for now, no soap for another day or so.

Dx 10/24/2008, IDC, 1cm, Stage I, Grade 2, 0/0 nodes, ER+/PR-
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Jun 12, 2009 07:22PM cookymkr wrote:

PS:  Already, my implants are more comfortable than the TE's were. Now i'm waiting for them to drop / fluff to see how they are going to look. I'm sure we'll have to do some more contouring to make them look great!

Dx 10/24/2008, IDC, 1cm, Stage I, Grade 2, 0/0 nodes, ER+/PR-
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Jun 16, 2009 04:44PM MonkeyD wrote:

Hi Pas,

I had my exchange (finally!!!Laughing) this past Friday 6/12.  The pain compared to my bilateral mastectomy in October is definitely less.  Don't get me wrong, I am still home from work (which I'm not thrilled about as I have evil uncaring bosses!) and taking the occasional percoset.  The pain is strange this time as it seems to be much more of a burning sensation (as opposed to stabbing/aching/pulling like I had with the tissue expanders) PS says its normal though and I have the best doc there is!  I'm thrilled that this sugery did not involve any drains (had 4 the first time) and I already suspect that my silicone implants are 100% more comfortable than the Expanders! Best of luck to you! D~

DX IDC 7/30/2008 DX multiple aresa of DCIS 8/25/08. Bilateral MX 10/10/08 Exchange Surgery 6/12/09 Dx 7/30/2008, IDC, 1cm, Stage I, Grade 2, 0/9 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Jun 16, 2009 05:23PM pas wrote:

Thanks so much for sharing!  I am really looking forward to getting rid of these hard shells on my chest!  Hope you are feeling better this evening! Pam

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Dec 4, 2014 08:51AM SallyU2014 wrote:

Hi Ladies,

Before meeting with my PS to discuss the implant size, I thought I'd ask if anyone had any experience with "shrinking" or lower projection  after exchange from the Saline TE to the silicone implant?   Anyone discussed with your PS on the projection goal in addition to  implant type, base size and volume?  I understand that the exact type of implant is chosen during surgery when we are "under" on the operating table, so if our opinion matters to the PS, it has to be communicated to the PS at the meeting prior to exchange surgery.  With the same volume, the projection could be ranging from 4cm to 6cm, and with the pec muscle pressing on the silicone implant, is the projection actually a little lower than manufacture's catalog? 

Thanks in advance for sharing any of your experience or thoughts.

Kindest Regards,




Dx 9/22/2014, DCIS, 3cm, Stage 0, Grade 2, 0/2 nodes, ER+/PR+ Surgery 11/6/2014 Mastectomy: Left, Right; Reconstruction (left): Tissue expander placement; Reconstruction (right): Tissue expander placement

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