VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WVEC) -- Each year, more than 100 thousand woman in the U.S. have a mastectomy to remove cancerous breast.
42% of those choose to have reconstructive surgery. For those choosing to have reconstruction, tissue expanders are a necessity for implants.
So, we sat down with the only doctor in Virginia who has a new method of tissue expansion that could save patients time and money.
"Samantha is the first patient in the United States to use it outside of the investigational stage," said plastic surgeon, Doctor Michael Denk of the Associates and Plastic Surgery, in Virginia Beach.
"Felt this lump in my right breast, and a pea sized under my left arm," said Samantha.
Samantha is the first patient of Dr.Denk’s who used the Aeroform expander. She said she had a biopsy to check for breast cancer three days before Christmas.
"I got the pathology report back the following week and found out it was DCIS,” said Samantha.
Doctors removed the cancer with a double mastectomy.
“I don't want to have to deal with this five, six, months down the line."
When she had to face the breast reconstruction process she heard about a new tissue expanding device then reached out to Dr.Denk.
"When my husband found the article on Aeroform, I thought that was just a way of me taking control of some part of my journey," said Samantha.
She emailed Dr.Denk, who said he was willing to do the surgery. He said, "My questions were answered in terms of the safety and previous studies."
Aeroform allows you to expand gradually expand the breast tissue to make space for an implant.
"If I can empower women and give them control back through breast reconstruction, I think I'm doing what I'm here to do," said Dr.Denk
This medical tool is needle-free, patient-controlled, wireless tissue expander. It uses a COH 2 canister to inflate the implant.
It's different from the traditional tissue expansion, which uses saline injections through a needle.
"Tissue expanders demand multiple office visits," said Dr.Denk.
Clinical research shows patients using Aeroform finished tissue expansion in an average of 21 days, compared to 46 days for those using saline expansion.
Now Samantha is cancer free- and feeling confident in her decision.
"Absolutely I would recommend it," said Samantha.
Doctor Denk said there are pros and cons to each decision for tissue expansion. With the Aeroform, doctors have less control of the expansion process.
However, doctor Denk said Aeroform has classes and tests for the patients to take so they know how to use it properly.
He also says, the cost between both procedures differs depending on who you see, but it's about the same or less for Aeroform.