Expander breast implants are made of a shell of silicone (the same as a normal breast implant) which surrounds an empty compartment. This compartment can be inflated with saline (salt water) to increase the size of the implant. The saline is added by injections given through a special valve attached to the implant, which lies under the skin (usually on the chest below your bra strap). This can be done in the outpatient clinic without the need for any anaesthetic.
What does it involve?
The procedure is performed under a general anaesthetic (with you asleep) usually as a day case (in and out of hospital in the same day) or with an overnight stay.
What are the benefits?
Expander augmentation is a safe technique often used in women with breast asymmetry, to increase the size of the smaller breast. Normally, the expander is left in for about a year and then a second operation is performed to remove it and replace it with a silicone implant. The advantage with this method is that an accurate size match between your two breasts can often be achieved. The silicone implant that replaces the expander has a softer and more natural feel, which is why many women choose to have the expander replaced. Alternatively, the valve can be removed and the expander can be left in place, acting as a permanent implant.
Regarding breast implants in general, breast-feeding is still possible (and safe). Breast cancer detection by mammography is also possible (please see the breast augmentation page for further information). Importantly, you should understand that if you do not have much breast tissue to start with, the implant will be palpable (you are likely to be able to feel it) and sometimes even visible (you may even be able to see the implant lying under your skin) – furthermore, with time, breast implants will result in the gradual loss of your breast tissue.
How long is the surgery?
The operation itself may take between 60-90 minutes.
What is the recovery period?
Surgical drains (tubes) will be inserted into your breasts at the time of surgery – these are usually removed the following day, and you should go straight into wearing a supportive post-surgical or sports bra which you should continue wearing day and night for 6-weeks. After the surgery the wound will be dressed with medical tape. This is splash-proof and shower-proof (but not bath-proof). You will be able to shower from the day after surgery, and dab the tape dry with a clean towel, kitchen towel or use a hair-dryer on a cold setting to dry the tape. You will be able to return to light activity within a few days, depending upon how you feel.
How long before daily activities may be resumed?
You should avoid all heavy physical activity and contact sports for 6-weeks following the surgery to prevent damage to your new breasts. We do, however, recommend that you do light shoulder exercises after the surgery to prevent you from getting stiff. In fact, the best way to start is to wash your own hair the day after the surgery. This also has the added benefit of making you feel much better!
What are the success rates?
Expander augmentation has a high success rate with few serious complications.
What are the possible complications?
These include wound infections or sometimes even infection around the implant – if significant this may require a further operation to remove the breast implant which may then be re-inserted after a 3-6 month break; bleeding (requiring return to surgery); lumpy scarring in some people; traction rippling (this describes rippling of the implant seen in your cleavage when bending forwards). Capsular contracture is an important possible complication to be aware of – this refers to a tightening of the naturally-forming scar tissue around the implant that may change the shape of the breast or cause discomfort. This would necessitate further surgery to replace the implant and release the tight scar tissue – however, as discussed above, there is normally a plan to replace the expander with a silicone implant after a year, at which time any tight capsular contracture would be released.
My decision to have breast reduction surgery has been a life changing experience for me, as for the last two years I had noticed that my breasts were getting larger (even though I had lost over a stone in weight) and one noticeably more than the other. This was having…read more→
Having surgery is something I've wanted and been considering for a number of years. When I decided to finally bite the bullet, I had to start looking for a suitable surgeon. After doing some research and speaking to a number of sources, I had Marc Pacifico recommended. Marc made me…read more→
A year has gone by since my Breast Implant Surgery and I would like to say a big thank you to Marc who has totally changed my life. I wouldn't hesitate in recommending Marc as my experience from the very first Consultation to my last aftercare appointment was superb. Marc…read more→
The results of 2 children and breast feeding. My breasts were a 34B and very empty with a bit of a droop, and I wanted to have back what I was like when I was breast feeding (a full C cup). Mr Pacifico advised me to have an uplift as…read more→
You have really transformed my life and I am very grateful to you and you are now officially my hero.
The whole team: from the amazing secretary to the super duper Mr Marc Pacifico. I had life changing breast enhancement done at the Spire Hospital Tunbridge Wells. The team there were great too but from the initial consultation right through to the after care, Marc and his team have been…read more→
From my first consultation with Marc I felt I would be in safe hands and I have been. I had a full abdominoplasty along with breast augmentation-mastopexy at the same time. I returned to work three weeks after the operation. My breasts look and feel completely natural, I actually forget…read more→
My operation was very successful and was exactly what I wanted. I found Mr Pacifico to be very professional, competent and understanding. Mrs Ireson was very efficient, friendly and pleasant, and the nursing staff kind, attentive and helpful.
From the moment I walked in for my first consultation Mr Pacifico made me feel at ease with his friendly and professional manner, telling me about the pros and cons of what I was to expect during surgery. I was confident I had chosen the right surgeon and I was right :)…read more→
I would say to anyone who is considering surgery - Do it now! Marc Pacifico was recommended to me by a friend who had recently undergone breast surgery. Having breast fed two children over twenty years ago, my breasts had sagged considerably and age had not helped. After reading through Marc…read more→
I could not have hoped for a better result, and I am surprised at how quickly everything healed without any problems at all. I am so happy that my breasts now look just as they did before I breast fed three children, and they look and feel natural. I feel…read more→
He's been fabulous from start fo finish - great to deal with, professional but also really approachable. He's clearly a very talented surgeon and I'm really really pleased with the end result - everything I wear feels so much nicer and fits so much better. I haven't had to buy…read more→
A couple of years ago my health hit a bump in the road. Anyway without boring you with the details, I'd gained weight and was left feeling frumpy, bumpy and lumpy and inside I was miserable! I had to do something about it and so started researching my options. With my…read more→
I have rated Mr Marc Pacifico as above because of the overall excellent experience and result. I located him through internet research. The whole experience from my first consultation to the post operative appointments have been excellent. I found Mr Marc Pacifico very professional and friendly. He explained the procedure…read more→
I researched on the net (which is why I thought it important to write a review so others can share my experience) and then attended one of his information evenings. I had the surgery at The Spire Hospital in Tunbridge Wells. I have written a diary of my experience which…read more→
My wife had her "bingo wings" done on 10/12/12 by Mr Pacifico at the Chaucer Hospital (Canterbury). The appointment before where all things are explained, the care during the operation and the care after surgery was top class! I would highly recommend Marc Pacifico for this operation - full marks…read more→
I found him on the Internet after extensive research into the best surgeon within the south of England. I was willing to travel anywhere to get the best care. After all elective or not surgery is a big decision. I was very lucky to come across him. From start to…read more→
I contacted the McIndoe Surgical Centre due to it's excellent reputation and experience in plastic surgery. Mr Pacifico was put forward by them as the right surgeon to discuss a complex nose problem. Nose Reconstruction (Open septorhinoplasty & Tutorplast graft) After two NHS operations on my nose by ENT surgeons…read more→
I met with Mr Pacifico to find out about the procedure. He was very honest and caring from the first consultation, explained everything there was to know and made me feel very at ease. The procedure was as I expected, and the after care was amazing. With all the advise,…read more→
I decided a couple of years ago to enter the, what I thought, unreal world of cosmetic surgery. I have never had a tattoo, my ears pierced or anything else I would shudder at - so how desperate was I when I signed up for a lower face and neck…read more→