INTRODUCTION: With the impossibility of prosthetic implantation with a definitive final volume due to dehiscence and posterior extrusion risks, the development of skin-sparing mastectomy provides an ideal condition for the use of a definitive expander implant. Therefore, this study aimed to demonstrate the use of a definitive expander implant and discuss its indications, cutaneous incision, and safety, as well as its advantages and complications.
METHODS: Thirty 150 definitive expander implants were used in 27 women who underwent mastectomy between March 1998 and March 2012.
RESULTS: Twenty-nine reconstructions were performed immediately after skin-sparing mastectomy and only 1 was performed after a late Halstead mastectomy. The complication rate was low, with seroma being the most frequent (20%), followed by valve dislocation (13.3%), pain in valve location (10%), post-radiotherapy capsular contracture (3.3%), infection (3.3%), and late extrusion (3.3%). No complications such as hematomas, cutaneous incision, and early extrusion were encountered, and none of the cases required surgical repositioning of the expander implant.
CONCLUSIONS: Despite its high cost, the use of a definitive expander implant may be considered as a potential breast reconstruction modality because it is associated with low complication rates and is easy to use. In our study, the appropriate indications and systematized cutaneous incisions, combined with the various definitive expander implant shapes and volumes, led to the satisfactory aesthetic results of the breast reconstruction in a single surgical stage.
Keywords: Breast neoplasms. Mastectomy. Mammaplasty. Tissue expansion devices. Reconstructive surgical procedures/methods.