Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Less Pain in Breast Reconstruction; Jacksonville Is the Only Site in State Testing out the Needle-Free System

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Less Pain in Breast Reconstruction; Jacksonville Is the Only Site in State Testing out the Needle-Free System

Article excerpt

Byline: Charlie Patton

Michelle Stapleton doesn't "care for needles."

Which is one of the reasons she was open to the suggestion by physician Ankit Desai that she become part of a clinical trial Jacksonville's Desai Center of Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery is conducting.

"I prayed about it and it felt right," said Stapleton, a 42-year-old mother of two.

Stapleton, who lives in the Bartram Springs subdivision, underwent a double mastectomy on March 1 after she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Now she is preparing for reconstruction surgery.

Traditionally, that preparation has involved putting an expandable implant beneath a woman's pectoral muscle and then using a needle to inject saline solution into the implant each week for about three months. That would gradually expand the tissue and create a pocket in preparation for eventually replacing that implant with a permanent silicon or saline implant. This technique is used only with breast reconstruction, not augmentation, in which the implant is placed on top of the pectoral muscle.

Stapleton is testing a new tissue expanding system called XPAND. That is short for AirXpanders Patient Activated Controlled Tissue Expander System for Breast Reconstruction. Because she had both breasts removed, she received two implants, each with a carbon dioxide reservoir. Stapleton regularly places a remote control against her chest and uses it to trigger the release of a small amount of carbon dioxide into each of her implants. Eventually, after the XPAND implants have created large enough pockets under her pectoral muscles, they will be removed and replaced with permanent implants.

The XPAND system has several apparent advantages over the traditional method of tissue stretching, said Michael Fallucco, a plastic surgeon with the Desai Center.

"You get a better result in stretching if you can expand little by little," he said.

Using a needle to inject saline involves the patient coming to the doctor's office once a week for the injection of about 60 cubic centimeters. Each time Stapleton operates her remote, she releases 10 cubic centimeters of carbon dioxide. …

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