While tissue expansion can be uncomfortable and time-consuming, an experimental breast tissue expansion device may soon provide a major alternative to traditional methods, according to a recent news report.
Mastectomy, or breast removal, is often necessary to prevent the recurrence of breast cancer. While breast reconstruction surgery can offer women the chance to regain breasts lost to cancer, the site of the mastectomy often lacks sufficient tissue to hold the implant. Tissue expansion involves gradually stretching the breast tissue and muscle so that the site will be prepared for an implant.
Tissue expansion often requires repeated visits to the doctor’s office in order to receive saline injections. However, an alternative method has been developed, using a device called the AirExpander. This device can be implanted in the chest and delivers bursts of carbon dioxide, which are triggered by a remote control. A study for Columbia University Medical Center examined the results that the AirExpander offered to a single patient.
Barbara Baxter, who received a mastectomy last year, received the AirExpander in preparation for breast reconstruction. She was able to create enough space for her implant in six days. “It’s a piece of cake compared to the other way I think,” Baxter told CBS. “I haven’t had the other way but it didn’t look that pleasant to me.”
According to Dr. Jeffrey Ascherman, who spoke with CBS:
“[Baxter] can do it through her clothes, she can be at work, she can be at home, she presses a little button and it releases a small dose of compressed CO2… She can do multiple small doses during each and every day. She has the potential with this to complete the process much more quickly.”
While not yet approved by the FDA, the AirExpander is currently being tested in clinical trials, and its producer will likely apply for FDA approval later this year.
Image source: Webster Lab/Brown University