Restore Feeling After Mastectomy
During a mastectomy, nerves providing feeling to the breast are severed causing loss of sensation and numbness to the breast area. Patients undergoing mastectomy must understand they may lose all feeling to the area, regardless of whether they choose to have breast reconstruction or not. Over time, some sensation may return but unfortunately for many patients it is minimal, if any.
Mastectomy patients choosing to have breast reconstruction using their own tissue may be candidates for an additional procedure called a "microneurorrhaphy", performed at the same time as their flap breast reconstruction. This repairs the nerves cut by the mastectomy and significantly improves return of feeling to the reconstructed breast. Microneurorrhaphy is performed by joining two nerves using microsurgery and therefore requires specialized training.
While very few centers worldwide offer this extra procedure, PRMA has been successfully performing sensory nerve reconstruction in conjunction with flap breast reconstruction since the late 1990's.
When breast reconstruction is performed using flaps like the DIEP flap or SIEA flap, sensory nerves are transferred with the flap to the chest and reconnected to nerves cut by the mastectomy. This extra step provides patients with a better chance of regaining feeling to the new breast, in a shorter amount of time.
Unfortunately, sensory nerve reconstruction can only be performed in conjunction with certain types of autologous (flap) breast reconstruction. Microneurorrhaphy is not possible with tissue expander or implant breast reconstruction.
To learn more, please see our recent question-and-answer session on nerve reconstruction here.
To set up a consultation with one of our surgeons to learn if you are a candidate for sensory nerve reconstruction please contact us here or call us at (800) 692-5565.