Smooth Versus Textured Tissue Expander Breast Reconstruction: Complications and Efficacy

Caroline McLaughlin, Alexa J. Hughes, Christopher S. Parham, Madelaine Fritsche, John D. Potochny, Allen Kunselman, Dino J. Ravnic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Introduction Ongoing recognition of breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL) and its link with textured devices has brought a paradigm shift in prosthetic-based breast reconstruction. Many institutions no longer offer textured expansion devices for staged reconstruction. However, there is a paucity of data regarding the efficacy of smooth tissue expanders (TE). We hypothesized that the time to final reconstruction and complication profile between smooth and textured TEs would be similar in breast reconstruction patients. Methods A retrospective chart review was performed of all patients who underwent TE breast reconstruction during a 6-year period at the Penn State Hershey Medical Center. Rates of complications treated nonoperatively and those requiring reoperation were assessed. Mechanical complications, including expander malposition and rupture, were evaluated. Time to final breast reconstruction was quantified. Mixed-effects logistic regression and linear regression models, as appropriate, were used to compare textured to smooth TEs. Patient characteristics and anatomic plane placement were adjusted for in all analyses of outcomes. Results Data were collected on 389 patients, encompassing 140 smooth and 604 textured TEs. Textured devices had an increased incidence of complications treated nonsurgically (16.7% vs 10.7%; P = 0.14). However, smooth TEs had an increased incidence of reoperation (12.1% vs 7.6%; P = 0.06). Most noteworthy was that although smooth TEs had a 40-fold increase in malposition (13.6% vs 0.3%; P < 0.001), no reoperation for this complication was warranted. Further, the time to final reconstruction was comparable between the 2 devices (textured expanders: 221 days and smooth expanders: 234 days; P = 0.15). Conclusions Staged, implant-based reconstruction is the most common surgical approach to recreate the breast mound following mastectomy. Textured TEs were the cornerstone to this approach. Unfortunately, the association between textured devices and BIA-ALCL now mandates an alternative. We postulated that smooth expanders would compare favorably for breast reconstruction. Although our study suggests that smooth TEs suffer more malposition, this has a negligible impact on the reconstructive timeline. Thus, smooth TEs may prove beneficial when considering the risk of BIA-ALCL associated with textured devices.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S288-S292
JournalAnnals of plastic surgery
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Surgery


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