Use of the tabbed expander in latissimus dorsi breast reconstruction

Madeleine J. Gust, Khang T. Nguyen, Elliot M. Hirsch, Caitlin M. Connor, Armando Davila, Vinay Rawlani, John Y.S. Kim*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Latissimus dorsi (LD) myocutaneous flap breast reconstruction with a tissue expander/implant is a post-mastectomy option often used as a salvage procedure for a failed tissue expander (TE). The patient is traditionally placed in the lateral decubitus position for flap dissection and is re-prepped and re-draped in the supine position for placement of the tissue expander. A new generation of anatomically-shaped, tabbed tissue expanders are increasingly being used in place of traditional untabbed expanders. The innovative suture tabs allow for more predictable and controlled expander placement while the patient is in the lateral decubitus position, eliminating the need to reposition the patient intraoperatively. The objective of this study was to evaluate the use of tabbed tissue expanders in latissimus dorsi breast reconstruction, with respect to total operative time, complication rates, and aesthetic outcomes. The outcomes of 34 LD breast reconstruction procedures with tissue expanders were evaluated. Eight patients received tabbed tissue expanders with no position change, while 26 patients underwent an intraoperative position change. Demographic information, total operative time, and follow-up complication data were collected. Aesthetic outcomes were evaluated by three blinded individuals using a validated scoring scale. The mean operative time for procedures with no position change was 107 minutes. The mean operative time for position change cohort was 207 minutes. There was no statistical difference in complication rates or aesthetic outcomes between the two groups. In conclusion, tabbed tissue expanders decrease operative time by eliminating the need for an intraoperative position change without influencing complication rates while maintaining equivalent aesthetic outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)126-129
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Plastic Surgery and Hand Surgery
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2013


  • Breast cancer
  • Breast reconstruction
  • Latissimus flap
  • Mastectomy
  • Tabbed tissue expander

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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