NEW YORK – More than 109,000 women this year in the United States may choose to have breast reconstruction after undergoing a mastectomy.
Jane Obadia and her husband, Danny, were having fertility problems and were one week away from having a surrogate carry a baby for them, when Jane's doctor called and told her she had cancer in both breasts.
"When you're initially given the diagnosis, your focus is on survival. What do I need to get through this?" Obadia said.
Obadia had a double mastectomy and implants and then had a daughter through a surrogate.
But after a few years, a recurring complication brought Obadia to microsurgeon, Dr. Constance Chen, who suggested a procedure called resensation.
Instead of implants, Chen used Obadia's own tissue to rebuild her breast, and then reconnected the nerves that were severed during mastectomy.
"Resensation involves taking a nerve graft and reconnecting it to a nerve on the flap or the tissue that is used to restore a patient's breast," Chen said.
The nerve graft is then connected to a nerve on the chest wall, which restores feeling. The graft is made from processed human tissue.
"The axons regrow, start to regenerate at a millimeter a day," Chen said.
Obadia said she has about 80 to 90 percent of her feeling back.
"Now when I give my daughter a hug and her head rests there, I can feel her breath on my chest. That's priceless," she said.
Chen said the resensation procedure adds only about 30 minutes to reconstructive surgery and is covered by most insurance.