MIAMI, Fla. – Every year in the U.S. more than 100,000 women undergo some form of mastectomy to either treat breast cancer and/or reduce the risk of the disease.
While the procedure can save lives a side effect is the loss of most or all sensation in the breast, but there is a way to help patients feel again through a surgical process to create resensation.
For Jessica De Paz, who underwent a double mastectomy in 2019, the loss of feeling was a devastating side effect of the disease."You don’t feel you don’t have any sensation, and that is a game changer because it’s very depressing," she said.
Dr. Jaime Flores, a Coral Gables plastic surgeon who specializes in micro vascular surgery, has participated in studies to return feeling to the breasts through a delicate procedure called resensation.
“So we identify the nerve, we clean it, we use the good portion that’s not burned, we do the micro vascular connection and fortunately with the company Axogen, what they’ve come up with involving connectors and grafts make our job easier,” said Flores.
He added that there are risks involved in the procedure.
“You can connect nerves and have pain, have neuromas, cause the nerves not to join and that’s the worst thing. You’re trying to restore sensation and you just gave them the worst pain of their life,” he said.
Fortunately for De Paz, there were no complications. “What I want to get out is for the women of double mastectomy to know that there is a part of your journey that you can get back. I’m hugging everybody now because I want them to feel the hugs, feel the love,” she said.
The resensation procedure works best when done at the time of reconstruction and patients typically regain feeling in about six months, sometimes as soon at 3 months.