Do it Yourself Expanders
This is sort of a companion piece to yesterday, another new development in breast reconstruction. The technique of breast expanders, temporary implants that are slowly inflated and then replaced with "permanent" implants, has been around for quite a while. In this situation, at the time of mastectomy/reconstruction, a temporary "balloon" is placed under the chest muscle. The plastic surgeon adds a little saline to it at the time of surgery, but women awaken to a basically flat chest. Over the next months, a woman makes repeated visits to the plastic surgeon to have more saline gradually added through a port in the expander. It can be done only a little at a time to allow all the tissue to gradually stretch. Once the desired size is achieved (usually a little bigger than wanted as the permanent one will be a bit smaller), the exchange is made in a day surgery. Some women find this process inconvenient, because of all the medical visits, but otherwise smooth. Unfortunately, some women find it uncomfortable to really painful with each expansion. This is addressed, usually, by smaller additions and more visits.
This article from MedScape describes a new invention that allows women to "self fill" at their own pace at home. In addition to presumably reducing the discomfort, it puts the woman herself in charge--and that is always a good thing. Here is the beginning and then a link to read more:
Wireless Tissue Expanders Promising for Breast Reconstruction
Oct 30, 2012 NEW ORLEANS - A tissue expander that uses controlled carbon dioxide inflation can be safely and effectively operated by patients themselves in preparation for a permanent implant and breast reconstruction, according to investigators who presented clinical trial data on the novel device here at Plastic Surgery 2012: American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) Annual Meeting.
"The AeroForm (AirXpanders, Inc, Palo Alto, California) offers a much faster, safer, and effective form of tissue expansion in women undergoing breast reconstructive surgery," said Tony Connell, MD, a plastic surgeon in Perth, Australia, who is the principal investigator of the Patient Activated Controlled Expansion (PACE) II trial.
"The patient-controlled expander (PCE) is the first real advancement in tissue expander technology in a long time," he said.