Breast reconstruction can restore a woman’s breasts following a mastectomy with the goal of providing long term satisfaction and improved body image. Restoration of sensation, however, is often overlooked during breast reconstruction. The removal of breast tissue during the mastectomy cuts the nerve endings that provide sensation to the breast and nipple. Given the numbness that patients have historically experienced after a mastectomy (and traditional reconstruction), newer techniques have been developed which may improve sensation after breast reconstruction.
Breast resensation surgery can offer women the opportunity to regain feeling following the mastectomy. One form of breast reconstruction is performed using the free flap reconstruction procedure (ie DIEP reconstruction). This surgery uses the body’s own tissues from the abdomen to rebuild the breast. Resensation is performed during immediate or delayed reconstruction. More recently, these resensation techniques have also been combined with implant-based techniques as well. The surgeon reconnects nerves in the chest that are typically divided during a mastectomy. The nerve tissue can then regenerate as time passes, with the goal of restoring sensation to the breasts. A woman will be able to again feel an intimate touch, a hot shower or a hug from her children or grandchildren.
Women often have mixed emotions surrounding mastectomy surgery that removes one or both breasts. They are thankful that the surgery has removed the cancer, but often patients are surprised and disappointed to find out that the reconstructed breast has no ability to feel heat, cold or touch. Women associate their breasts as part of their erogenous zones and with nurturing and motherhood. For some women, the loss of sensation can be a nuisance while for others it represents a psychological trauma reminding them of the loss of the breast(s).
Frequently Asked Questions about Breast Sensation Nerve Repair
Resensation surgery can be scheduled at our office locations in Atlanta, Cumming / Forsyth, and Northside / Sandy Springs, Buckhead, Midtown and Canton/Cherokee. The following doctors perform resensation surgery at Atlanta Plastic Surgery, P.C. Click on a doctor to learn more about their practice and to view Before and After surgery photographs.