Remote-Controlled Device Rebuilds Breasts After Cancer


MIAMI, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — Coping with breast cancer surgery and treatment can be draining. But preparing for breast reconstruction can also be a painful process, until now. See how new technology is making the journey easier on patients.

Ana Alvarez is busy working and taking care of her aging mother. But she never thought she would be the one needing help.

“I found out I had breast cancer when I went for a regular mammography,” Alvarez told Ivanhoe.

Ana was shocked and scared.

“I spent like probably about a week, I didn’t tell anybody,” said Alvarez.

After careful thought, she decided to undergo a bilateral mastectomy, followed by reconstruction.

“The gold standard is to perform some type of reconstruction at the time of the cancer treatment,” Jaime Flores, MD, Plastic & Reconstructive Surgeon, Aesthetic & Reconstructive Surgeons LLC explained. (Read Full Interview)

Dr. Flores says reconstruction means using tissue expanders to prepare the area for breast implants.

“I always tell my patients this is one of the most painful procedures we do,” said Dr. Flores.

That is until now. Traditional expanders required patients to have the implants injected with saline at the doctor’s office.

Dr. Flores continued, “And they would go home and have pain for two to three days.”

Now new technology called AeroForm is changing the way expanders work.

Dr. Flores explained, “You have a Bluetooth device.”

Using a controller pre-set by the doctor, the patient administers small amounts of compressed CO2 into the expander three times a day. Patients control the size they want to expand- from the comfort of home. Ana loved the convenience.

“It was so easy and so manageable. There was no pain involved,” Alvarez explained.

With her reconstruction complete, Ana’s back to making her mother’s traditional homemade flan.

AeroForm also allows patients to fully expand and be ready for reconstructive surgery in half the time as the traditional saline expanders; three weeks compared to almost two months. The FDA-approved device is covered by insurance. For more information on AeroForm air expanders log onto

Contributors to this news report include: Janna Ross, Field Producer; Judy Reich, Videographer; Cyndy McGrath, Supervising Producer; Gabriella Battistiol, Assistant Producer; Roque Correa, Editor.

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REPORT:       MB #4336

BACKGROUND: One in eight women in the US will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime. It is the most commonly diagnosed cancer found in women, and the second leading cause of cancer death among women as well. Each year it is estimated over 252,000 will be diagnosed and more than 40,000 will die. Breast cancer in men is rare, but an estimated 2,400 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer and approximately 460 will die each year. Breast cancer is when malignant (cancerous) cells form in the tissues of the breast. Most causes are unknown, and it is difficult to pinpoint the exact cause. Risk factors may be avoided, such as drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes, while others cannot; such as having a family history of breast cancer.


TREATMENT: Three types of standard treatment are used to treat patients with breast cancer. These are surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. These treatments may vary based on the patient, the stage of the disease, and whether or not the patient is pregnant. Treatments may cause side effects. Surgery to remove the cancer may be a lumpectomy, partial mastectomy, segmental mastectomy, quadrantectomy, or breast-sparing surgery. Many women choose to have reconstruction surgery, but it may not be the right choice for everyone. There are different options and types of procedures, and some are done (or started) at the same time as mastectomy, while others are done later. Silicone or saline breast inserts are one type of operation, as is using a patient’s own body tissues. Sometimes both are used in combination to reconstruct a breast.


NEW TECHNOLOGY: Temporary expanders are placed in patients to prepare them for breast implants, and doctors say it is one of the most painful procedures they will experience. Traditionally, they would be injected with saline once or twice a week and have pain for several days and towards the end of their expansion it is extremely painful. Now, a new expander called AeroForm is allowing patients to expand and prepare slowly on their own at home, with far less pain. Instead of saline, there is a Co2 cartridge internally in the expander, and there is a remote device the patient uses to control the amount they expand themselves by pressing a simple button. Saline expanders could take two to three months to fully expand, but with AeroForm this preparation time has been cut in half.

(Sources: Jaime Flores, MD)


Michelle Thaler

If this story or any other Ivanhoe story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Marjorie Bekaert Thomas at

Doctor Q and A

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