NEW YORK CITY, N.Y. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — This year in the united states, as many as 109-thousand women may choose to have breast reconstruction after undergoing a mastectomy. Martie salt has more on a new microsurgery done during some reconstruction processes that is restoring the sense of touch.
Jane Obadia and her husband Danny take nothing for granted. Not jane’s health and not their seven-year old Elana. Jane and Danny were having fertility problems and were one week away from having a surrogate carry a baby for them when jane’s doctor called. She had cancer in both breasts.
Jane said, “when you’re initially given the diagnosis, your focus is on survival. What do I need to get through this.”
Jane had a double mastectomy and implants then had Elana through a surrogate. But after a few years, a recurring complication brought her to microsurgeon doctor Constance Chen, MD. Dr. Chen suggested a procedure called resensation. Instead of implants, she used jane’s own tissue to rebuild her breast, then reconnected the nerves that were severed during mastectomy.
Dr. Chen, a Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon, said, “resensation involves taking a nerve graft and reconnecting it to a nerve on the flap or the tissue that is used to restore a patient’s breast.”
It’s then connected to a nerve on the chest wall, which restores feeling. The graft is made from processed human tissue.
“The axons regrow, start to regenerate at a millimeter a day,” Dr. Chen explained.
Jane says she has about 80 to 90 percent of her feeling back.
Jane shared, “now when I give my daughter a hug and her head rests there, I can feel her breath on my chest. That’s priceless.”
Dr. Chen says the resensation procedure adds only about 30 minutes to reconstructive surgery and it is covered by most insurance.
Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Field Producer; Roque Correa, Editor; and Kirk Manson, Videographer.
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TOPIC: RESENSATION AFTER BREAST CANCER SURGERY CAN BE LIFE CHANGING
REPORT: MB #4643
BACKGROUND: During a mastectomy, the nerves that provide feeling to the breast and nipple are severed, causing loss of sensation in the remaining skin whether the woman undergoes reconstruction or not. Over time, some women experience a return of feeling but it is typically minimal. When the reconstruction choice is implants, there is no opportunity to restore sensation because the implant forms a physical barrier that prevents nerves from growing through it to reach the skin. With certain types of autologous reconstruction, however, it is possible to suture together nerves along with a woman’s own tissue to create a new breast. Reconnecting blood vessels and nerves allows them to grow through the transferred tissue to reach the skin and significantly improve the return of sensation.
RESENSATION: Constance Chen, MD, a Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon talked about the amazing new option of resensation and how it works, “Resensation involves taking a nerve graft and reconnecting it to a nerve on the flap or the tissue that is used to restore a patient’s breast and connecting that to a nerve on the chest wall to restore her sensation.” Dr. Chen says the results are not immediate, it can take a year or two for full sensation because axons have to regrow. But most patients start regaining sensation within a few months. She says it’s very similar to an electrician putting wires back together for someone to restore the electrical conductivity of the nerves from one spot to another.
(Source: Constance Chen, MD)
NEW TECHNOLOGY: Dr. Chen says the procedure is covered by insurance because it is a flap neurotization. It is not for everyone, but it makes a drastic difference in the lives of appropriate patients, “Frankly most surgeons don’t even realize that this is something that is possible. Most plastic surgeons are not microsurgeons. Most plastic surgeons do breast reconstruction with implants. Implants block sensation because it’s plastic between your chest wall and your skin so nerves can’t grow through that. So, this really can only happen when someone has natural tissue breast reconstruction and it’s best done with microsurgical breast reconstruction. And so, you need to find a plastic surgeon who’s a microsurgeon.”
(Source: Constance Chen, MD)
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