SAN ANTONIO -

Breast cancer surgery is painful -- physically and emotionally.

But the after-effects when lymph nodes are removed can take the pain and discomfort to a new level.

Now, a local doctor is using a new remedy that is allowing women to not only have their breasts reconstructed, but their lymph nodes replaced as well.

Christina Bowers' breast removal from cancer also took the majority of her lymph nodes, creating massive, painful swelling in her chest and arm.

"That was one of the harder days for me because I'm a very active person, and knowing that was going to be a potential limitation for me was very difficult and knowing that there really were not any options out there for me," Bowers said.

Bowers' doctor said it can also be permanent.

While performing the "DIEP flap procedure," which uses the patient's own skin and tissue to reconstruct the breast, Dr. Steven Pisano also transferred Bowers' lymph nodes.

This brand new procedure at PRMA Plastic Surgery allows Pisano to take the nodes from the groin area and place them back under her arm.

"She had a very dramatic result," Pisano said. "Within weeks, her swelling was gone."

"I have had better range of motion, a reduction in pain, the swelling in my chest in gone," Bowers said.

The procedure is groundbreaking, with the potential to change the lifestyle of cancer-survivors forever.

"I think already in the short time that this procedure has been out there, the awareness that we see on our website, on the internet, women asking questions, women chiming in, women wanting help, I can see that this is going to be a game changer," Pisano said.

Studies show that up to 70 percent of women who have undergone mastectomy or radiation for breast cancer treatment may suffer from lymphedema at some point.

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