Pectoral placement of tissue expanders affects inpatient opioid use

Halley Darrach, Franca S. Kraenzlin, Nima Khavanin, Waverley He, Erica Lee, Justin M. Sacks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Prepectoral breast reconstruction promises to minimize breast animation deformity and decrease pain associated with subpectoral dissection and tissue expansion. This latter benefit is particularly timely given the ongoing opioid epidemic; however, this theoretical benefit remains to be demonstrated clinically. As such, this study aimed to compare inpatient opioid use and prescription practices following prepectoral and subpectoral expander-based breast reconstruction. A retrospective review was performed of patients undergoing immediate tissue expander placement between January 2017 and April 2018. Medical records were reviewed for surgical details, 24-hour inpatient PRN opioid usage (oral morphine equivalents [OME]), and discharge prescriptions. Comparisons were made using chi-squared and student's t tests where appropriate. Two hundred and thirty-one patients were identified, (mean age 48.8 years), 222 of which met inclusion criteria. 89 underwent subpectoral and 133 prepectoral tissue expander placements. All but two subpectoral patients and two prepectoral patients were opioid-naïve. The rate of bilateral procedures did not differ between cohorts (P =.194). Overall, 94% of patients were discharged within 24 hours, and length of stay did not differ between cohorts (P =.0753). Two subpectoral and two prepectoral patients required prolonged admission due to postoperative pain. All patients were ordered standing acetaminophen, celecoxib, and gabapentin, and subpectoral patients cyclobenzaprine. Narcotic pain medication was offered on an “as needed” (PRN) basis. Opioid usage within the first 24-hours was halved in the prepectoral cohort (22.2 vs 44.5 OME, P =.0003), which was not associated with bi/unilaterality of procedure or the presence of any psychiatric conditions. The amount of opioids prescribed on discharge was not significantly different between cohorts (308.42 OME prepectoral vs 336.99 subpectoral, P =.3197). Prepectoral expander placement appears to be associated with decreased inpatient opioid use postoperatively. This may represent an opportunity to improve patient satisfaction and safety by decreasing outpatient opioid prescriptions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)126-133
Number of pages8
JournalBreast Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • breast reconstruction
  • opioids
  • pain management
  • prepectoral reconstruction
  • subpectoral reconstruction
  • tissue expanders

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine
  • Surgery
  • Oncology


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