Summary: When it comes to breast reconstruction surgery, everybody is always looking for ways to make it easier. It’s hard to blame them. Breast reconstruction is incredibly difficult to go through, whether it’s Milwaukee breast reconstruction or Los Angeles breast reconstruction—whether and geography can’t really make it easier. But there’s some research out there that suggests maybe Botox, of all things, can have a positive impact on breast reconstruction surgery, making the initial stages less uncomfortable and more efficient.
It Seems Weird: Combining Breast Reconstruction With Botox
Breast reconstruction is usually a very rewarding process. But it’s not always easy. Adding to the pain of a breast cancer diagnosis, mastectomy can throw your entire identity into a tailspin. Breast reconstruction surgery certainly helps, as there are multiple ways to help reassemble that identity, that feeling of normality. Because that’s what breast reconstruction is all about—it’s about having hope for the future, about preserving your identity and sense of self, about making sure you’re living as normal a life as possible during an otherwise turbulent time. That’s why, often, breast reconstruction procedures will begin to occur at roughly the same time the mastectomy is conducted.
The first step in breast reconstruction is usually the implantation of something called a tissue expander. Because the breast tissue is removed during mastectomy, implants—whether natural or artificial in construction—don’t really have anywhere to go. A tissue expander is a device that, over a period of time, slowly expands a pocket in the muscle tissue of the chest. This gives the implant a place to go, but it’s not always a comfortable process. Surgeons, of course, do everything they can to limit the discomfort (and a new device might do more, as it lets the patient control the rate of expansion), and most patients end up quite satisfied with the results, it’s worth noting.
This Combination Isn’t Meant to Make You Look Younger
It’s important that the reconstruction process be as comfortable as possible because there’s so much other stuff going on at the same time as breast reconstruction. Cancer treatment continues. Recovery continues. Other life complications continue. There’s no getting around those facts, so reconstructive plastic surgeons put a lot of time and energy into making sure that the reconstructive process is both fruitful and bearable. The expander is just the first phase: then there’s the donation of muscle from a donor site, and the implantation of that material to form the new breast. These are surgeries which require recovery—so there is both time and pain involved.
But new research seems to indicate a way that at least these initial stages might be made more bearable. A pilot study conducted by Allen Gabrial MD and other at Loma Linda University Medical Centers suggests that Botox injections may help alleviate discomfort during the tissue expansion phase of breast reconstruction. This might seem counterintuitive at first—after all, Botox is most famous for mitigating wrinkles in the face, and at this point in recovery you’re probably not very worried about wrinkles on the breast. But the secret to Botox is that it works by paralyzing—in a very controlled way—muscle groups under the tissue.
Less Discomfort and Faster Results
So when these researchers were able to inject Botox into the muscle around the expander device, there was less rigidity in that muscle—more give and, therefore, less discomfort. According to the study, the expander was also able to get its job done more quickly—which means that those women were able to finish their reconstruction journey more quickly and get over the entire process with more speed. These attributes cannot be overstated in their positivity. Of course, this was just a pilot study, and more research will need to be conducted before these results can be anything more than promising—but promising it certainly is for now.
And, of course, this adds to the wonderful and surprising things that Botox can do. Some Los Angeles Botox clinicians, for example, use Botox to treat TMJ or TMD (think jaw soreness to the degree that your jaw muscles are always swollen). Others use Botox to mitigate excessive sweating. And there’s a good deal of research out there that supports the use of Botox to treat migraines and pain associated with migraines. So, it’s not hyperbole to say that Botox is responsible for a lot more than diminishing wrinkles—although that’s something that it is still often used to accomplish.
Completing the Journey More Quickly and with Better Results
The breast reconstruction journey, as we mentioned before, can certainly be a long one, and the tissue expansion phase is only one aspect of it. However, if plastic surgeons can make this phase more bearable and less painful, it might mean that more women become comfortable with the thought of breast reconstruction surgery and, therefore, enjoy the fruits of that surgery. That’s no small feat, and it’s an important task for all surgeons. In the end, it’s always up to the patient how quickly and how best to proceed with breast reconstruction. It’s your body, your identity—they’re your breasts, and you can always decide how to proceed.
Hopefully, this technique will make it easier for recovering women to make a decision they want rather than to avoid a path to avoid the pain that comes with it.