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tissue expansion, breast reconstruction, ibuprofen, pain management


The tissue expansion process is done after mastectomies to increase the submuscular space in preparation for the placement of permanent breast implant. The process is often believed to be painful by patients who are often intimidated by the prospect of mechanically stretching out their skin and muscle. This study aims to quantify the pain experienced by patients and determine the different pain management techniques used. We used a case series approach, in which patients who were undergoing serial tissue expansion process were asked to rate their pain and anxiety on a scale from 1 to 10, using a questionnaire and the visual analog scale. Pain was rated during and after the expansion procedure, and patients were also surveyed to find the most commonly used and most effective pain management technique. Patients typically reported very little pain during and after the procedure, with an average of 0.4 to 2.5 pain experienced out of 10. The pain did not last, on average, longer than 1 day. Furthermore, the most widely used and most helpful pain medication was ibuprofen. During the tissue expansion procedure, the mean anxiety level was 0.64 (1.3). The findings show that tissue expansion process is a relatively low pain procedure and is not a contraindication for undergoing breast reconstruction. Ibuprofen, a mild treatment with few side effects, was efficacious in pain relief though most patients required no pain relief.

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Cancer Control, v. 24, issue 4, p. 1-5

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