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Breast Reconstruction also Restores Breast Sensation

When a woman undergoes the surgical removal of one or both breasts, and opts for breast reconstruction, or rebuilding of a breast, often an unfortunate side effect is the subsequent lack of sensation across the chest. That is potentially all about to change. A new medical technique is being developed in Houston, Texas, that may be able to restore sensation for individuals with breast reconstruction.

This groundbreaking work is being primarily explored at the Houston Methodist Hospital. As the story goes, a former patient approached a plastic surgeon after she was burned. Apparently, the patient was unable to recognize that the water that spilled on her chest was extremely hot. The patient realized that the reconstruction of her breast restricted feeling in the chest area and the concerned doctor was inspired into action.

Sensational News

Dr. Aldona Spiegel developer of the technique and director of Methodist's Center for Breast Restoration further described the sensitive issue for Chron.com, stating: “A lot of reconstruction patients comment that their breasts look great but lack sensation… In fact, there's an option for women unhappy about that loss.”

Spiegel is optimistic about her recent innovative work and hopes that the expansive research she is conducting will provide credence for her radical techniques. Spiegel says she has successfully used the techniques in well over 200 breast reconstruction surgeries. She has even already described the techniques in plastic surgery article in 2009.

Restoring Confidence

Each year, an estimated 110,000 women a year make the decision to have some form of mastectomy. The surgery is usually done to treat forms of breast cancer. However, in recent years with specific cases, women (and even some men) believed to be at high risk of breast cancer have the operation prophylactically, which is to say a preventive measure to avoid any potential cancer spreading.

The techniques established for breast reconstruction has advanced significantly over the years. As recent as the 1970s, women who had a mastectomy more often than not could rely only on an external prosthesis. This typically came in the form of a synthetic breast worn in the bra. Nowadays a woman has a myriad of options available. The most popular option being saline or silicone implants or using tissue taken from elsewhere in the body, usually the abdominal region. A whopping 80 percent, according to several surveys, choose implants.

Unfortunately, for the longest time, there was no method available for regaining sensation for a woman if she opted for an implant-only reconstruction. While restoring sensation does not pose any health risks for the breast reconstruction, patients believe it would improve the quality worth of the surgery.

Inspired by her former patient's unfortunate burning accident, Dr. Spiegel began working on nerves previously unexplored by restorative microsurgeons. Spiegel’s radical technique, connecting the nerve around the same location where doctors would otherwise laboriously microsurgically attach blood vessels, extends the implant surgery by only a mere 15 minutes. Although still in the testing phase, the recent results have been extraordinary. According to Spiegel, “Women report a return in sensation as a result of this technique…not to pre-mastectomy levels, but they do feel sensation in the reconstructed breast again.”

One More with Feeling

The preliminary testimony of patients has been extremely positive. Karen Holt, the second patient to try Dr. Spiegel’s new technique, noticed sensation in her reconstructed breast two months after the surgery. Holt, 61, a recently retired school administrator, says, “I can't see or feel a difference in my two breasts. It's a gift; it makes you feel like a whole woman again.”

Still, Dr. Spiegel is careful to remark that not everyone is ensured the same results. Some cases take six to eight months before sensation starts to set in. Likewise, she says, it is not the same feeling as before. However Spiegel claims that the restoration of sensation is still important for some women and that she hopes her techniques will be able help those who are seeking specific kinds of outcomes. Her medical study will be published sometime this fall.

Contact our team of representatives today to schedule a consultation if you are interested about breast augmentation or reconstruction.



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