How PRMA Plastic Surgery Is Restoring Breast Sensation Following Breast Cancer Surgery

PRMA Plastic Surgery is one of the leading breast reconstruction centers in the world. Breast Reconstruction is our passion. We specialize in state-of-the art breast reconstruction procedures including DIEP flap, SIEA flap, GAP flap, TUG flap, PAP flap, LTP flap, fat grafting, direct-to-implant, nipple-sparing mastectomy, 3D nipple/areola tattooing and lymphedema surgery. Haute Beauty chats with PRMA Plastic Surgery to learn more about restoring breast sensation. 

PRMA Plastic SurgeryPhoto Credit: Photo courtesy of PRMA Plastic Surgery

Patients diagnosed with breast cancer who must undergo a mastectomy as part of their treatment have many breast reconstruction options available. These options include implant-based reconstruction and autologous reconstruction (using your own natural tissue). Regardless of the breast reconstruction procedure being performed (or if a patient chooses not to have reconstruction), many patients are unaware that nerves cut during a mastectomy can result in a loss of sensation or a feeling of numbness to the breast and/or chest wall. Over time, some sensation may return but unfortunately for many patients it is minimal, if any at all.

To improve patients’ quality of life following breast surgery, PRMA Plastic Surgery is among a small handful of centers world-wide offering patients Sensory Nerve Reconstruction in conjunction with breast reconstruction to improve the return of sensation to the breast following breast cancer surgery.

What is Sensory Nerve Reconstruction?

Mastectomy patients choosing to have breast reconstruction may be candidates for an additional procedure called Sensory Nerve Reconstruction or "Microneurorrhaphy" performed at the same time as their breast reconstruction. This extra procedure repairs the nerves cut by the mastectomy by joining two nerves using microsurgery, which significantly improves return of feeling to the reconstructed breast.

Who is a Candidate for Sensory Nerve Reconstruction?

Most patients choosing autologous reconstruction options are candidates for Sensory Nerve Reconstruction. When breast reconstruction is performed using flaps like the DIEP flap, sensory nerves are transferred with the flap to the chest and reconnected to nerves cut by the mastectomy. Sensory Nerve Reconstruction is possible during implant reconstruction for some patients. The use of a nerve graft is always necessary in this scenario however, and at this time, is not always covered by insurance.

What Does Recovery Look Like?

There is no difference in recovery for patients undergoing nerve reconstruction compared to patients who are not. It is important to mention though that breast sensation does not return in an instant. Even after Sensory Nerve Reconstruction, the nerves must heal and grow. Typically, sensation takes about a year to fully return after surgery. Patients may experience some feeling return sooner and should improve over time.