Smart Woman: New Breast Cancer Expansion Device

Published 03/23 2012 05:32PM

Updated 03/23 2012 05:40PM

Barbara Baxter had a mastectomy last year after doctors diagnosed her with breast cancer.

"Obviously no woman wants to lose a breast.. but of course i went forward with that." said Baxter.

The next step for Baxter was reconstructive surgery but before that could begin, surgeons needed to create space in the chest wall for a breast implant.

As part of a study for Columbia University Medical Center, Baxter became the first woman in the us to use an expansion device at home, instead of the doctor's office.

The small device was implanted in her chest and Baxter used a remote control to release small amounts of carbon dioxide, expanding the tissue and muscle.

Dr. Jeffrey Ascherman of New York Presbyterian said, "She can do it through her clothes, she can be at work, she can be at home, she presses a little button and it releases a small dose of compressed co2."

The traditional prep for breast reconstruction involves months of saline injections to stretch the skin and muscle. It can be painful and require many trips to the doctor. This experimental treatment could change all that.

"She can do multiple small doses during each and every day . She has the potential with this to complete the process much more quickly," said Ascherman.

Barbara created enough space for her implant in just 6 days.

Baxter said, "It's a piece of cake compared to the other way, I think. I haven't had the other way but it didn't look that pleasant to me.

She hopes the new technology will soon be available to more women recovering from breast cancer.

Right now the Airexpander is still in clinical trials but the company expects to apply for FDA approval by the end of the year.

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