The Impact of Postoperative Expansion Initiation Timing on Breast Expander Capsular Characteristics: A Prospective Combined Clinical and Scanning Electron Microscopy Study

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In the first stage of expander-to-implant breast reconstruction, postoperative expansion is classically initiated at 10 to 14 days (conventional approach). The authors hypothesized that it may be beneficial to wait 6 weeks postoperatively before initiating serial expansion (delayed approach). Clinical and ultrastructural periprosthetic capsule analysis is first required before determining whether a delayed approach ultimately improves capsular tissue adherence and expansion process predictability.


Patients undergoing two-stage implant-based breast reconstruction were enrolled prospectively in this study. During expander-to-implant exchange, the clinical presence of “Velcro” effect, biofilm, and double capsule was noted. Periprosthetic capsule samples were also sent for scanning electron microscopic observation of three parameters: surface relief, cellularity, and biofilm. Samples were divided into four groups for data analysis (group 1, conventional/Biocell; group 2, delayed/Biocell; group 3, conventional/Siltex; and group 4, delayed/Siltex).


Fifty-six breast reconstructions were included. Each group comprised between 13 and 15 breasts. In group 1, no cases exhibited the Velcro effect and there was a 53.8 percent incidence of both biofilm and double capsule. In group 2, all cases demonstrated the Velcro effect and there were no incidences of biofilm or double capsule. Group 3 and group 4 cases did not exhibit a Velcro effect or double-capsule formation; however, biofilm was present in up to 20.0 percent. All group 2 samples revealed more pronounced three-dimensional relief on scanning electron microscopy.


Variations in expansion protocols can lead to observable modifications in periprosthetic capsular architecture. There may be real benefits to delaying expander inflation until 6 weeks postoperatively with Biocell expanders.

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