Thinning hair, loss of eyelashes, no breasts. It's a reality many breast cancer patients face after chemo and a mastectomy. But with fat-grafting, patients can get their breasts back using their own stem cells.
Tuesday we're heading inside the OR for a look at one device that's changing the procedure.
Michelle Hartog is going under the needle, to get back what she lost to her breast cancer.
Michelle Hartog, Breast Cancer Patient, explains how she felt about herself, "You look at yourself and go, who is that? Who is that person in the mirror you're losing your hair no eyelashes, no eyebrows no breasts you feel a little like a monster."
Michelle wanted her breasts back, but didn't want implants or prosthetics, so she turned to her husband. Plastic Surgeon Doctor Jeffrey Hartog. Together they opted for something a little more natural, fat grafting
Harthog explains how it is similar to any other women getting a breast implants, "How many women say well I wanna take it from here and go to here, well that's what I'm doin!"
After having her second mastectomy, Michelle had liposuction. Some fat was immediately injected into her breast, the rest was banked for later. After a month, she was introduced to the Brava.
Hartog explains what it is like, “It's much like the breast pump when you're pumping for milk for a baby.”
She began wearing these domes, 10 hours a day. They're attached to a sport box and pump, that suction out air to stretch her tissues and increase blood flow. This new technique makes space for the added fat-resulting in less fat loss. It cuts the number of procedures in half, saving time and money. When she's ready, the fat is removed, thawed, and injected. In the past up to half of the fat injected would be reabsorbed by the body. But with the Brava, up to 90 percent will survive.
Four days later, Michelle is back to looking, and feeling, a little more like herself. The fat grafting procedure is done as outpatient, often under local anesthesia.
Even though the results aren't as immediate as implants, it involves no incisions or new scars and recreates a natural feeling breast. The Brava is currently being used in addition to fat grafting as part of a multi-institution study.