Bioethics Blogs

Handing over the Control in Breast Reconstruction Surgery


A company named AirXpanders is in
the process of developing a medical device that will give women a
sense
of control over breast reconstruction surgery
.  The name of the product is AeroForm and it is currently under
review by the FDA.  
It
is approved in Europe and sold in Australia
. AeroForm is currently in clinical trials.

Using an implant is the current
standard of care for breast reconstruction.
  In order for an implant to achieve its
designed purpose, space must be made in the breast tissue.
  Before AeroForm, this space was achieved
through multiple visits to the doctor’s office using a saline injection. It was
a painful process for some women and could take months. AeroForm is a wireless,
needle-free tissue expansion device.
  A
device is surgically inserted into the breast that will deliver small amounts
of CO2 gas to expand the tissue as the saline used to do. The release of the
gas is controlled through an internal valve signaled by a wireless dose
controller operated by the patient. The patient can release the gas at her/his
own rate to make it less painful and can be done at home.
  It also can speed up the process from months
to weeks. The device is more expensive than saline injections but it reduces
the numbers of physician’s visits, so cost is comparable. 

The
process of restoring something so intimate may be embarrassing as well as
medicalizing part of one’s identity.
  This
device may be a way to restore lost confidence for breast cancer
survivors.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.