Breast reconstruction can be accomplished with implants, autologous tissue or both. Thanks to the widespread of microsurgical techniques autologous tissue reconstruction has become a frequent option in many departments although it is mostly considered a second choice. The aim of this study was to review our experience covering the past five years in immediate breast reconstruction with tissue expanders. From January 2000 to January 2005 279 patients underwent immediate breast reconstruction with submuscular tissue expanders. Tissue expander was chosen according to dimension, shape and volume of the healthy breast. Operating time, early and late complications, interference with neo-adjuvant therapies as well as timing and surgical techniques of second-step reconstruction were also considered. No major complications occurred. Tissue expander, beyond proving itself a valid and safe option in immediate breast reconstruction, also decreased the psychological distress following a mastectomy.