Expander/implant reconstruction is the use of an expander to create a breast mound, which may be followed by the placement of a permanently filled breast implant.
Expanders are empty silicone “envelopes” placed under the pectoralis muscle, located between the breast and the chest wall. To enable the skin and soft tissues of the breast to grow, the expander is gradually filled with saline solution over a period of several weeks. The saline is injected into the expander through a valve or port in the expander that lies just under the skin. Once the expander has been completely filled, it is left in for several more weeks to months, allowing for maximal skin and soft tissue growth.
Implants are envelopes filled with liquid that are implanted into the breast tissue and are used to form the shape of the breast. Implants may be filled with saline or silicone gel. Each type of implant has advantages and disadvantages. Your doctor will discuss the types of implants with you and seek your input about the type of implant to be used.