This is an expander... it's what I have placed in my chest under my pec muscle. It's the first phase of my breast reconstruction. Notice how it's deflated in this pic, it doesn't stay that way. They, as in Rachel the fabu asst. at Dr. Gabriel's office, adds saline injections on a weekly basis. This 'pumps me up' and slowly increases my bust size and in turn stretches out my skin to make room for the 'real' implants that I'll get later.
It's not comfortable... but the meds help. Dr. Gabriel gave me botox in my chest at the time of surgery to help with the discomfort. And thank goodness because after I get 'expanded' I feel so engorged that I could nurse an entire day care center. Which by the way isn't possible since 1. My boobs aren't really filled to the brim with milk. and 2. I don't have nipples. But I do have boobs and no cancer left so I'm not complaining.
I'm on the 'fast track' so to speak. That simply means that druing surgery Dr. Gabriel put about 240 cc's in my expanders then post surgery they expanded me 3 times in one week. This isn't the norm, but since I had a lot of empty space Dr. G didn't want the fluid to build up, hang out and cause me problems. The bigger the expander the less room for the fluid. Makes sense to me... and it makes me feel less like I had a mastectomy since when I look in the mirror I have breasts.
The goal is to inflate me to my optimal size before I begin radiation. [the max will be around 600 cc's]Then post radiation my skin will heal. After my radiation oncologist and plastic surgeon chat to make sure my skin is healthy enough, I'll have surgery for my permanent implants. About 6 months or so after I finish radiation. Then another procedure to get nipples. Which is an entire post within itself.
The black object is a magnetic something or another that will locate the 'port' in the expander. It's dangled over my chest to mark the port location then this is where the needle is injected for the saline expansion.