Chest-wall deformity after tissue expansion for breast reconstruction

Jordan D. Sinow, Robert A. Halvorsen, John P. Matts, Warren Schubert, Janis G. Letourneau, Bruce L. Cunningham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


A prospective longitudinal study of chest-wall deformity after tissue expansion for breast reconstruction was performed in 19 women. CT imaging was a sensitive method for detecting occult deformity. Using a semiquantitative scale for measuring deformity, all patients and 94 percent of expanders had some thoracic abnormality after tissue expansion. Rib and chest-wall contour changes were observed under 81 and 68 percent of the expanders, respectively. Routine chest roentgenograms were not a sensitive method for evaluating these deformities. The magnitude of deformity after unilateral expansion was not significantly different from that after bilateral expansion. Linear regression analysis indicated that early peri-prosthetic capsular contracture was negatively correlated with chest wall deformity. Only one patient experienced a clinically noticeable complication from chest compression—transient postexpansion exertional dyspnea. After removing the expanders and placing permanent implants along with capsulotomy, the mean deformity index decreased by 57 percent after 10.5 months median follow-up, which was highly significant (p < 0.001). Our findings suggest that chest-wall deformity is a common occurrence after tissue expansion in patients undergoing breast reconstruction and is usually of minor clinical significance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)998-1004
Number of pages7
JournalPlastic and reconstructive surgery
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1991


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