The temporary implants are called "tissue expanders" because they start small and are slowly filled with saline via a port over several weeks to stretch out the pectoral muscles to hold a final implant later.
For you visual learners, here is what that looks like...
|From John's Hopkins|
So for the past several weeks I've been seeing my plastic surgeon for "expansions" or "fills" of my tissue expanders. We had to complete all my fills pretty quickly because no more fills can occur during or after radiation.
Remember how I said the tissue expanders are behind the pectoral muscles? Yeah, so that means the tissue expansion process hurts like b*tch. Like seriously, I thought I had a high pain tolerance until this. For several days after each expansion any movement I make that engages my pectoral muscles hurts like crazy. Just when I'd start to feel almost better, I'd get another expansion.
This week I had my final fill, and I'm so glad to be done because this one hurt the most. It's been three days since the fill and it still hurts to take a deep breath. Oh and my back hurts a lot too because those muscles are trying compensate for the strain on the pecs. Wonderful.
This would all be manageable, but I have a 16 pound baby to pick up and carry around! It's not that I can't pick her up, it's just that each time I do I feel a lot of pain. She's so cute though, it makes up for it.