Tissue Expander - Saline Infill pain

Hi All,

After a year of treatment I'm finally preparing for breast reconstruction. I had my first saline infill in my tissue expander and oh boy the pain was so intense - probably the worst pain I have felt in a long time! I'm 3 days post and still very uncomfortable and dreading my next one. I don't want to give up or postpone my surgery date as the expander is so uncomfortable and has changed a lot due to radiation - does anyone have any tips on pain management that worked for you whilst you were getting your infills? Thanks 


  • CarrieP
    CarrieP Member Posts: 39
    Sorry your not feeling great, I am just starting out on this journey so no advice but just wanted to say I am thinking of you x
  • Zoffiel
    Zoffiel Member Posts: 3,372
    Consider taking some pain meds before the next top up and if you are really anxious, consider a mild sedative. I'm the sort who is happy with some chemical intervention, but it's not everyone's preference.

    I hated those sessions, the sharpness of the pain--like I could feel rough edges on the  expander-- took me totally by surprise. Then there was a horrible sensation which I can only liken to the feeling of opening your mouth too wide which persisted through the whole process. The implants themselves were much more comfortable. By comparison.

    Pain is an odd beast. It is most certainly not all in our heads, but I have discovered that once I get into what I call a pain loop, things turn totally to shit and can stay that way for a disproportionate amount of time.
     I tense up, everything gets tighter (not helpful when you are trying to create a cavity under your chest muscles) I focus too hard on the injury. If I put a bit of a lid on it beforehand, things go better for me.
    Oh, and don't do pushups for a while. :) Mxx
  • iserbrown
    iserbrown Member Posts: 5,561
    Panadol about an hour prior to appointment helps 
  • Mazbeth
    Mazbeth Member Posts: 199
    I totally agree with @Zoffiel and @iserbrown - definitely take some Panadol before the next fill and I would also let your doctor know as well. I had BMX in June with expanders placed.
    I had the first fill 6 weeks later as my doctor wanted to make sure everything had healed as much as possible before filling given that the expanders are under my chest muscle.
    I have just had the switch out surgery on Friday evening and now have the implants - so I am in recovery mode again. The implants are so much better, softer, more comfortable and I can’t feel those ‘edges’ that @Zoffiel mentions. I just tried to keep my mind on the end result as that pain loop is real for me too.
    My first fill was the worst and at the time I worried about the next fills, but they were much better. The last fill was more uncomfortable after as everything was on full stretch. It was a bit like when I had braces as a kid and had to get them tightened - uncomfortable but got better as the days passed.
    I also seemed to have a bit of stiffness in my arm where I had the node biopsy and my surgeon said that it may improve once the expanders are switched to implants as it is all impacting my muscle. I am now almost 2 days post surgery and I can already feel improvement.
    Hang in there. Things will get better. The expanders are working hard to create the space for the implants - and they are much better. Take care and I am happy to answer any questions. Mx
  • Ecup2020
    Ecup2020 Member Posts: 15
    Hi Miss Minimal1,
    I had my left mastectomy and right reduction early October and hate my tissue expander in the left breast.Because I went from an E cup to a C cup I didn’t have to have saline fills as it was the right size when inserted.I was on Endone for about 4 weeks and then when the pain was subsiding and I could get by on panadeine forte and sometimes just Panadol, I started radiotherapy and that stirred it up.I am now 8 weeks post surgery and have been having physio and acupuncture at the wellness centre at the Kinghorn  cancer centre next to St Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney and that has helped a lot.
    I am just having to take a very occasional pandeine forte or a couple of Panadol  usually a couple of hours after radiotherapy which makes the breast very hot and tight.I am looking forward to the end of radiotherapy  in 2 weeks but what I am really looking forward to is the removal of the tissue expander when I have the DIEP procedure! Unfortunately that won’t be for a few months as I need to recover from the radiotherapy.
    I understand many people find the tissue expanders simply “uncomfortable”  and  their pain subsides a few days ( or even a few hours) after each “ fill”. Take the pain meds , tell your Dr about the pain, and remember it WILL get better in time.

  • Miss_Minimal1
    Miss_Minimal1 Member Posts: 3
    Thanks so much everyone for your comments and advice, it has really helped me!
    I've got a telehealth with the Dr tomorrow in the hope that they can give me some strong pain killers. I just need to get through the next 4 weeks so trying to stay in a positive frame of mind :).