Removing Expanders and Getting Implants: How Severe is This Surgery?

This week, Dr. Richard M. Kline of The Center for Natural Breast Reconstruction answers your questions.

Q:  I am interested in having tissue expanders removed and putting in permanent implants. How severe is this surgery?

A. Thank you for your question!

We don’t do implant surgery very often, but removing the expander and placing the permanent implants is, generally speaking, pretty straightforward.

 The second stage of expander implant reconstruction involves the removal of the tissue expander, followed by placement of the implant, and creation of the final breast shape. This is an outpatient procedure, performed by opening the mastectomy scar (no new incisions are made) and removing the expander. Before placing the final implant, changes that need to be made to the implant pocket are addressed. These can include repositioning the implant on the chest wall, improving the inframammary fold, using Alloderm or  Strattice to address areas of thin skin, and revising or removing the capsule as needed. The final implant is then placed in the pocket, and the incision is closed. Drains are usually not needed. Placement of the implant will result in a softer, more natural breast as compared to the tissue expander.  According to which of the above procedures are to be performed, you can expect to spend 2 to 4 hours in the operating room.

Feel free to forward any other questions you may have…..We’re always happy to help!

Richard M. Kline, MD

Center For Natural Breast Reconstruction


Have a question about breast reconstruction you’d like answered from our surgical team? Just ask us!


  1. After a double mastectomy for breast cancer I have an expander that has been filled once. It’s very uncomfortable. I’m 77 and am thinking of forgoing reconstruction and having the implant removed to prevent any future possible complications or discomfort. How severe is this surgery?