When Michele Stapleton found out she had breast cancer, the busy manicurist was not too worried at first.
"And so I said, oh I'll have a lumpectomy, no big deal. And they said no, the tumor was too large and that I'd have to have a mastectomy," said Stapleton.
As a precaution, the mother of two had both breasts removed. Her next step was reconstruction.
But doctor Ankit desai says the process can often be long and painful. There Is usually not enough skin to insert an implant after a mastectomy, so doctors have to stretch the patient's tissue with an expander and inject saline into it.
"They have to have a needle that is stuck through the skin," said Dr. Desai. "Sometimes that can cause some discomfort for patients."
As part of a study, Michele is trying out a new tissue expander that uses a remote control. It allows patients to expand their breast tissue at their own pace in the comfort of their own home.
"I don't like needles. I don't like pain, and if I can control what I do as far as how I expand, it was exciting to me," said Stapleton.
The remote control is placed against the expander and, instead of saline injections, carbon dioxide is released.
"And you press the button one time and that's it. It's delivered a dose," said Dr. Desai.
Patients go from weekly visits and injections for several months, to only having to come in twice and can be ready for breast implants in just weeks.
"You have control over it. That's the glory of it," said Stapleton.
Giving people like Michele more time for what matters. Stapleton has two children.
"This is Addison, she's 5 and Avery is a lovely 2-year-old, they keep me busy," said Stapleton.
The study is actively recruiting all over the country for mastectomy patients planning to undergo breast reconstruction.
BREAST REMOTE CONTROL: Called the AeroForm Patient Controlled Tissue Expander System, the investigational expander gradually inflates in small, pre-set amounts on a daily basis which the patient controls with a remote. The average expansion time is 15 days. The study will continue until a total of 92 AeroForm expanders and 42 saline expanders have been implanted into patients. The FDA has granted AirXpanders (the creators) with an Investigational Device Exemption so that they could carry out the study and it will be judged on how safely and successfully the device expands the tissue in preparation for a breast implant. (Source: www.wsj.com)
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