For women who have undergone a mastectomy (e.g. total, radical and double mastectomy), this procedure can be life-changing. Although breast reconstruction is possible, you may notice a lack of sensation after having this procedure. The loss of tissue in the breast area often involves severing and disrupting nerve cells.
This loss of sensation can be difficult for many people. This is why resensation surgery offers hope for patients today.
What is Resensation Surgery?
Just like its name suggests, resensation surgery is designed to restore sensation after mastectomy. Many women feel a personal sense of loss and dissatisfaction in their personal appearance after breast cancer surgery.
While different breast reconstruction options help in improving these symptoms, women are often surprised to find that their breasts don’t have much of an ability to feel any touch, warmth or cold. Everyone has a different response to this loss but having poor sensation in the breast area can also be traumatic and a cause of grief.
Resensation is a procedure done usually during a free flap reconstruction surgery. This procedure uses body tissues to rebuild the breast. Plastic surgeons will then reconnect nerves in this flap tissue to nerves in the chest area by using allograft nerve tissue. Over time, the nerves will regenerate and gradually restore feeling to breast tissue.
Who is Eligible for the Procedure?
The ideal candidates from a resensation surgery are women who are undergoing reconstruction surgery. This procedure does not apply to women who have breast implants but they may have this done in a revision procedure if they decide to have free flap reconstruction.
Other factors that make you eligible candidate for this procedure include:
- Medically stable for a surgical procedure
- A reasonable immune system function
- Planning to undergo reconstruction surgery
Of course, if you aren’t sure about your eligibility, you should always discuss resensation surgery thoroughly with your plastic surgeon. Most women can have this procedure done safely when they are in stable condition.
What Happens During Surgery?
You may be aware of how some surgeries involve replanting a vein from a different part of your body to a damaged area. Similarly, allograft nerve tissue is human nerve tissue that is used to reconnect severed nerves. Expert plastic surgeons usually combine this procedure at the same time with breast reconstruction surgery.
Our surgeons in Columbus and Cincinnati, Ohio perform this procedure using a dual surgery approach. Two surgeons perform the procedure together. We believe that this attention to detail improves outcomes and reduces potential risks.
What are the Benefits the Surgery?
One of the benefits of a resensation surgery is it allows a woman to not only regain her physical self but to also feel like her normal self again.
Although the results from this procedure take time and vary from person to person, it can gradually restore some or most sensation to the breast and possible to feel touch and temperature once again.
What are the Risks and Side Effects?
The risks of this procedure are mostly the same as any other surgical procedure. The risk of infection is always present. Although the nerve tissue undergoes gamma irradiation before the procedure, it may not be completely sterile. A less serious risk would be that there is no complete restoration of the sensation.
The results vary and women may notice that they still have reduced sensation, although they usually do notice an overall benefit.
What to look for in a Surgeon for the Procedure
Any plastic surgeon who performs a resensation surgery should be Board Certified in plastic surgery and microsurgery. The surgeon should also be able to answer any and all questions that you may have. You should never have any procedure done by a surgeon who does not seem experienced or knowledgeable in this area. As this procedure is on the cutting edge, not all surgeons will be experienced.
Our expert team at Midwest Breast & Aesthetic Surgery has been trained in this procedure. They can guide you through the process before, during, and after treatment. Restoring breast feeling after a mastectomy may seem like it’s not important, but it can significantly improve a woman’s quality of life.
(Read: DIEP Flap Reconstruction Patient Letter)
If you’re considering having this procedure, then be sure to discuss it thoroughly with an expert plastic surgeon. You can then decide if the procedure to potentially restore sensation is the right choice for you.