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Topic: How do they feel?? (Expanders followed by Implants)

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

Posted on: Apr 29, 2008 01:43PM

ndaoust wrote:

Hello to all,

I am looking for some women who had a mastectomy, followed by an expander and then an implant.  I have several questions for you:

* How happy you are with results, not using tissue from any part of your body?

* How does the reconstruction breast feel (weird, okay, soft, hard, etc)?

* How does the reconstruction breast look?  Both clothed and nude?

* How does your partner react to your reconstructed breast?

* Did you opt for an implant on the unreconstructed side in spite of the increased risk of cancer?

Thank you!  I have been looking for the answers to these questions throughout the threads, but can't find anything that addressess all my questions.


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Apr 29, 2008 02:25PM , edited Apr 29, 2008 02:27PM by Beesie

* How happy you are with results, not using tissue from any part of your body?  I considered other reconstruction options but in the end decided that I didn't want my BC to affect any other part of my body.  I didn't want to compromise my muscles in other areas or create new scars in other areas.  So for me, an implant was the right decision.

How does the reconstruction breast feel (weird, okay, soft, hard, etc)?  I'm almost 2 years out from my implant surgery.  Some days I don't notice my reconstructed breast; other days it's very noticeable to me.  Certainly it's much firmer than my natural breast and it doesn't have any of the movement that a natural breast has.  I also find that my pec muscle, which is above the implant, is prone to soreness - I seem to pull the muscle a lot.  The pec muscle also regularly does these really weird contractions - my reconstructed breast sometimes seems to have a life of it's own, the way that the muscle moves.

* How does the reconstruction breast look?  Both clothed and nude?  Quite good nude.  Not so much lying down, since the breast doesn't flatten out like a natural breast, but standing, I look quite even when I'm nude.  My reconstructed breast does have a bit of a bulge - it always did but the bulge became a bit more pronounced when my implant shifted.  That's quite noticeable if I wear a stretchy sports bra or a stretchy top.  But if I wear the right bra - one that gives me a bit of push up on my natural side - I look completely even in clothes.  Better than ever, in fact, since I had an implant added to my natural breast so my size is slightly larger. 

* How does your partner react to your reconstructed breast?  Definitely no complaints.

* Did you opt for an implant on the unreconstructed side in spite of the increased risk of cancer?  Yes. I was a larger 34A or small 34B before and decided to go just a little bigger, to a full 34B.  I figured I should get something out of this ordeal!  I was concerned before hand and consulted a couple of times with both my PS and my surgeon.  Both said that while the implant might make it a little bit more difficult to view the breast tissue on a mammogram, the difference is not enough that it should stop me from adding the implant if I wanted to.  Basically, they said "go for it".  As it turns out, I have benign calcifications in my 'good' breast.  These were very hard to see clearly on a mammogram, requiring lots of painful contortions and lots of re-dos.  Adding the implant actually solved that problem because it pushed my breast tissue slightly forward.  Now the calcifications are easy to see on a mammogram.  My two mammograms since adding the implant have been the easiest ones I've had in years. 

Hope that helps!

Dx 9/15/05, DCIS-MI, 6cm+ Gr3 DCIS w/IDC microinvasion, Stage IA, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR- “No power so effectually robs the mind of all its powers of acting and reasoning as fear.” Edmund Burke
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Apr 29, 2008 02:27PM SpunkyGirl wrote:


Here are my answers in order:

*The results are not the same as they are for a woman who just has an augmentation.  I had one expander followed by implants on both sides.  I'm fairly small, so they would have had a hard time finding autologous tissue, but I didn't want my stomach or back messed with anyway.  Am I happy with the results?  On a scale of 1-10, I'd give it a 7, but that's because I also had ras on one side and a lot of bad stuff could have happened and didn't.

*The reconstructed breasts are definitely very firm (also because your chest muscle is over them), but not as hard as the expander was.

*Clothed, my chest looks fine.  In fact, in halter tops and stuff like that, it looks better than it did before.  Naked, it looks a little "lumpy".  The casual observer, I don't think, would be fooled.

*My husband doesn't seem to mind.

*I had a prophylactic mastectomy on the other side.  It's easier to achieve symmetry that way, and I'm glad I did it.

Hope that helps.


"Gratitude is the fairest blossom which springs from the soul."
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Apr 29, 2008 03:11PM rubytuesday wrote:

* How happy you are with results, not using tissue from any part of your body?

I'm thrilled with mine.  I didn't want the more involved surgery, didn't want to sacrifice body parts for another that I could technically live without and didn't have enough body fat at the time.  Also figured I could do the least invasive surgery and if it didn't work out, I hadn't jeopardized anything. 

* How does the reconstruction breast feel (weird, okay, soft, hard, etc)?

I have virtually total feeling in the skin over my implant.  I had skin sparing surgery and am ?lucky? (if you want to call it that) that my numbness is under my arm and all the way down the inside of my arm to my wrist.  But my foob has feeling although not like it was but pleasurable and the round midrange cohesive gel implants that I have are soft.

* How does the reconstruction breast look? Both clothed and nude?

I think I have a great match to my 'good' side both in clothes and nude.  Since I had my nipple/tattoo done, I am still 'wowed' by the look of my foob.  

* How does your partner react to your reconstructed breast?

I ultimately chose to 'go bigger' (went from a small B to a small D) and while my DH professed to be a 'small boob man', he can't keep his hands off of them.  LOL 

* Did you opt for an implant on the unreconstructed side in spite of the increased risk of cancer?  Yep, I started out just wanting a small implant on the recon side and didn't want my 'good' side touched.  As expansion went on, I decided that I wanted to be a small C and then 'boob-greed' set in and I wanted to be a FULL C.  By the time the exchange came around, I was SCREAMING "JUST MAKE ME MATCH".  I had a lift/augment on my good side and couldn't be happier......unless, of course, I never had BC at all and didn't have to go thru any of this BS!

Proud member of the TaTa Sisterhood! :)
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Apr 29, 2008 08:57PM 3girls4me wrote:


#1)   I'm VERY happy with my results!   I had my exchange almost 6 weeks ago.   I really hated those expanders, so hard and uncomfortable.  Couldn't sleep on my stomach.  After the exchange, I was amazed how soft and squishy they were and natural feeling!  I have silicone implants.  I was not a candidate for any other kind of reconstruction.

#2)  I had bilateral, and my breasts feel more real than I thought they would.  If you didn't know, and didn't see them and you touched them, I don't think you would notice anything wierd about them.  Of course the scars are a reminder.   I don't like that they sometimes feel "cold", that bothers me because they're becoming part of me, but then the coldness is a rude awakening that they're not part of me.  I do notice when I lay down, they feel firmer, and go out to the sides.

#3)   I think they look great!   I wish the top part of the breast was filled out more.  I have high profile silicone, and my PS said that the top part doesn't get filled out all the way, so from the side, when nude, I have a little concave part.  But when I wear a bra, it lifts them up, and that goes away.   They look great in a bra, no one would ever know anything.

#4)  My DH is as thrilled as me!   He can't believe how real they feel.  He of course just wants me to be happy, and I am.

DX 6/12/07 Stage 0, Grade 1 & 2, 0/0 nodes, Bilat Mast w/recon 9/12/07, Exch Surg 3/21/08, Nipple Recon 7/29/08, Tattoos 10/1/10--finally DONE!
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Apr 30, 2008 03:28AM jade wrote:


  I too got the high profile mentor implants.  I have GREAT projection and the shape of them are nice and round.  I have to say, I LOVE wearing strapless tops and dresses.  Before this nightmare I could NEVER even think about going braless.  Now I can:<}.  I think I still have to get used to all that has happend.  My foobs do have some rippling on the cleavage side, but with a bra, no one can tell.

My husband cant wait to start to massage them, thats his "job" and he LOVES IT!!!!!  I married a great man.


Dx 9/4/2007, DCIS, 2cm, Stage 0, Grade 2, 0/1 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2+
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Apr 30, 2008 05:56AM LiveForToday wrote:


I certainly agree with all of the above!  I did not want the invasive

surgery that goes with the DIEP or GAP so I choose the expanders

followed by implants.

I do love the look of the implants, not so much the feel because I

have saline, but my husband has no problem with them!   Just

remember that the guys need to be coached when you are ready

for your breasts to be touched.  Most men will stand back and not

invade your space until you give them the green light.  Probably

afraid you may not be ready or that they might hurt you.

I am aware of mine every day, some days more than others, and

I hate the fact that the muscle  contorts the implant when it

flexes, but with all that said, I am alive, well and look somewhat

better than before breast cancer so I can deal with all the problems!

   huggs,  Sherry

I will stand my ground...and I won't back down
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Jun 2, 2008 12:50PM ndaoust wrote:

Thanks so much for the information.

I'm bumping this topic up to see if more women have input on this subject - good or bad is very welcomed!!!!

Dx 11/21/2007, IDC, 1cm, Stage I, 0/18 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2-
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Jun 2, 2008 01:45PM cocoathunder wrote:

I have saline implants, one side with an LD flap due to radiation. Reconstruction was done in 2000 and I was so thrilled not to be flat anymore it was easy to overlook the negatives. They never felt soft, but I think capsular contraction was forming almost from the start. When I hug someone, I'm conscious they feel like 2 large baseballs on my chest. But in the early days, they looked pretty good in clothes, and not needing a bra since they don't move has been great. So I was fairly satisfied with them until about 3 years ago, when they started distorting and shifting upward, moving the nipples to the side, causing tightness and pain. They're no longer symmetrical at all, and ripples/dents show clearly through the skin. I'm currently planning on a GAP to replace implants.
You're dealing with so much with mastectomy, chemo, rads in that time, it is hard to think about cutting up other parts of your body. I didn't realize then the fairly high rate of problems with implant reconstruction, but at the time it was my only option and I didn't want to stay flat. It's very much a personal decision.


Dx 6/1999, IDC, 5cm, Stage IIb, Grade 3, 3/9 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Jun 2, 2008 02:07PM lvtwoqlt wrote:

Here is my feelings on implants

* How happy you are with results, not using tissue from any part of your body? I have had several other surgeries that excluded me from using any tissue, and I did not have enough tissue to make a matching set (bi-lat)

* How does the reconstruction breast feel (weird, okay, soft, hard, etc)? feel more normal than the turtle-shell expanders, almost feel normal (saline implants)

* How does the reconstruction breast look?  Both clothed and nude?

Clothed, I look good, nude, I look good, prior to surgery, lopsided boobs and looked weird nude.

* How does your partner react to your reconstructed breast? He can't keep his hands off them.

* Did you opt for an implant on the unreconstructed side in spite of the increased risk of cancer? I did bilat mast because of prior abnormal mammos/biopsies for ADH and family history of breast/ovarian cancer.

I did not need rads so I did not have to worry about the radiated area not stretching like the unradiated area.

It is a personal decision.

Check out breastreconstruction.org to see the different types of reconstruction available if you are still trying to decide what to do.


Women are like tea bags, we don't know how strong we are until we were thrown into hot water. Eleanore Roosevelt Diagnosed ADH Feb 2005, ADH Sept 2006 Dx 4/27/2007, DCIS, Stage 0, Grade 1, 0/7 nodes Surgery 02/12/2005 Lumpectomy (Left) Surgery 09/10/2006 Lumpectomy (Right) Hormonal Therapy 10/12/2006 Tamoxifen Surgery 06/01/2007 Mastectomy (Both)
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Jun 2, 2008 03:04PM PhyllisCC wrote:


Well, I've only had my silicon gel implant 4 days.  Had my exchange surgery last week.  The expander was placed 11/07 at the same time I had a rt mast due to extensive DCIS, grade 3.  Yep, 6 months with the stupid expander and although I have to say I didn't have any real pain (was expanded to 450?) it was darn uncomfortable and really hard to sleep on.  But wow, now it's out, my PS loved how my skin looked and she put in 575cc Natrelle Implant, mid profile and it really looks close, (I'm just a nearly B...and only wanted to match my good side) even though I am still swollen.  I have to go back next week, and know we have some more "work" to do, but it's so soft and squishy.  I love it.  I too just wasnt willing to give up any more tissue to BC so opted for immediate reconstruction (not all that immediate) it worked well with my life.  Went back to work after 3 weeks, went on two vacations and then had my exchange.  Wasn't sure if I wanted the nipple, but it just doesn't look real now.  So in time, I'll probably get that.  I've been told that the procedure is easy....after all we've been thru.  Phyllis

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Jun 2, 2008 05:12PM ehall wrote:

Hi there--I am 3 weeks out from my expander exchange and I feel fabulous!  The expanders are like hard turtle shells strapped to your chest.  Mine sat very high and full.  There was no way to sleep on my stomach and most of my D top bras didn't even fit.  If I bumped into something--I would just bounce off.

Was nervous with my exchange--not knowing what to expect.  At first I was disappointed...until about a week later--when everything just feel into place.  Today, they look & feel great.  I had high profile silicone...700 implants.  They are soft...I spend about 15 minutes a day massaging really light compression--firm but gentle.  Ans they have just the right amount of droop and jiggle.  The best part---I am back to sleeping on my stomach!

Good luck!

Dx 7/6/2007, DCIS, 4cm, Stage 0, Grade 3, 0/6 nodes, ER+/PR+
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Jun 3, 2008 02:06PM kimbly wrote:

I am still in the expander phase of my reconstruction and am so happy to have found this thread!!! I had a LB mastectomy with immediate reconstruction just a month ago and finished my fills last thursday.  I am happy to be reading how happy everyone seems to be with the results!!! The turtle shell description for the expander is so, so accurate!  I have 3 months now till I see my PS and then go from there, he said 4-6 until he does the exchange.  I did the skin sparing procedure too so mostly my own skin and I do have feeling in the skin back now too.

Dx 11/21/2007, IDC, 1cm, Stage I, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2+