What is Breast neurotization?
Our Houston, TX board-certified plastic and reconstructive surgeon, Dr. Aldona J. Spiegel, takes a microsurgical approach called neurotization to give you feeling back in your reconstructed breasts and nipples. You may also have heard it called breast resensation surgery or reinnervation. Many of our breast reconstruction patients who have had the nerve supply in their breast reestablished by Dr. Spiegel call it a life-changing surgery. We believe breast cancer survivors should have the appearance of proportionate, symmetrical, and feminine breasts with feeling. Recent advancements in the neurotization of the reconstructed breast and microsurgery are evolving for the better. When a breast cancer patient has a mastectomy, more times than not, the nerve that signals the brain for feeling is damaged or detached while the cancerous tissue is cut out. Losing some or all of the feeling in the breast skin is an unfortunate risk of having a mastectomy.
Dr. Spiegel can perform a neurotization immediately after a DIEP flap breast reconstruction or as revision surgery of your initial autologous or implant-based breast reconstruction. If you are interested in discovering more about neurotization, we invite you to call our office in Houston, TX for a consultation to learn if you qualify for this procedure.
"After being diagnosed with breast cancer only six weeks after giving birth, my life was turned upside down over night. I immediately started chemo therapy, and a few moths later I was researching reconstructive surgeons. Dr. Spiegel came highly recommended by my oncologist, and I'd later find out it was for very good reason. Not only was I welcomed very warmly by everyone in the office, Dr. Spiegel showed me such a great deal of compassion that it really helped to put my mind at ease for my upcoming surgery. It was very clear from the wealth of information on her website, her tutorial videos, and the personal attention from everyone in office - from her PA's, to the office manager to her billing specialist - that everyone there was working together, fighting together, for the absolute best experience and results for the patient. The whole process from start to finish took a holistic approach to treating the patient. I ended up getting the DIEP Flap reconstruction surgery, and I was very worried about the final results - not just the look of the breasts, but also the abdominal scar. Dr. Spiegel explained everything in great detail to me, assured me she was going to make it all look wonderful, and after just having finished the second surgery (the cosmetic phase), I am thrilled with how it all looks so far. I'm still healing, but I cannot believe how great it all already looks. Dr. Spiegel surpassed my expectations, which were already very high. She's given me back a body I'd thought I'd never have again. My breasts look like they did when I was 20, maybe even better. And while there's no getting around the fact that this type of surgery leaves a long abdominal scar, her work left a very clean, soft line. One that over time, I know will fade and blend nicely. She contoured my entire abdominal and thigh area, and used that tissue to reconstruct the breasts. It all looks incredible. She's truly an artist. I'd highly recommend her to anyone thinking about about getting this complex surgery done after a double mastectomy. Thank you Dr. Spiegel and all you amazing souls at her office. You all helped me tremendously through such a terrifying time in my life and shepherded me to the other side of it."- C.S. / Google / Jan 08, 2019
"Dr. Spiegel and her wonderful staff got me through the most difficult experience of my life. Going through mastectomy and DIEP flap reconstruction is traumatic. I chose her over other Houston area surgeons and felt that I could trust her. Everyone in her office supported me each step of the way. First, and foremost, this is a major surgery and you rely on medical excellence to avoid important risks. She is a perfectionist regarding medical safety. Next, her artistry is outstanding. She got the best result that could be possible. Finally, if you have radiation, it is a long journey of several years to get from the beginning to end of the process, involving a year of a temporary expander before the final reconstruction. It is important to have a team that you can have that trusting supportive relationship over time. I feel very lucky and grateful that I was in the hands of this wonderful group of highly skilled women."- L.S. / Google / Jul 08, 2019
"Dr. Spiegel is my guardian angel and I owe her and her entire team and staff a debt of gratitude that I will ever be able to repay! I am one year out from my original Diep flap surgery with her and I feel great- like myself again! After undergoing a prophylactic mastectomy ( due to testing positive for the BRCA 2 gene and strong family cancer) and getting breast implants with another doctor, Dr. Spiegel saved my life by removing the implants and performing Deip surgery. The implants cased me so much pain and diminished my quality of life but now I have it back. I have no more pain and my breasts are soft again and created from my very own tissue. Thank you Dr. Spiegel!"- J.A. / Google / Jul 08, 2019
"I trusted Dr. Spiegel to perform breast reconstruction on both of my breasts following chemo and radiation. I have NEVER regretted that decision for one moment. She is an amazing physician with skills that are second to none. After researching my reconstruction options (type of procedure), it was crystal clear that Dr. Spiegel offered me what I was looking for...DIEP. Ladies, do yourself a favor and do your research before you decide to compromise your abdominal muscles!! One last important comment- Dr. Spiegel is a perfectionist. You will not be disappointed with the end result!"- A.W. / Google / Aug 08, 2013
"I knew I was in good hands after my first visit with Dr. Spiegel. Her smile, her attentive staff, her medical explanations, and her sincere inquiry into my expectations and concerns all gave me confidence to choose her as my breast reconstruction surgeon. Now, I am a cancer survivor and a renewed female body survivor!"- D.S. / Google / Aug 08, 2018
Qualifying for Neurotization
Today, breast reconstruction patients with autologous flap breast reconstructions are the only candidates for this surgery. Implant reconstruction patients do not qualify at this time. However, if you would like to have a revision breast reconstruction by taking out the implant and replacing it with autologous flap reconstruction, you have a better chance at the neurotization of your breast and nipple being successful. Dr. Spiegel can meet with you in a private consultation to see if you are eligible. Losing the sensation in the breast and nipple is very concerning to many women and more likely than not. With Dr. Spiegel as your surgeon, she will provide you with the newest techniques and safest surgical protocols in neurotization surgery as she has dedicated her career to making the quality of life better for her patients.
Using a microsurgical approach
In the operating room, you will be put under a general anesthetic. Dr. Spiegel will follow your customized treatment plan to perform your neurotization surgery. Dr. Spiegel commonly performs one of these three types of neurotization procedures:
- In a revision flap reconstruction to add neurotization
- In initial autologous breast reconstruction with neurotization
- Replacing a breast implant reconstruction with a revision autologous breast reconstruction with neurotization
In the surgery, she will take healthy nerve tissue from your abdomen or other designated areas. With microsurgical techniques, Dr. Spiegel will bring the nerves inside your reconstructed breast together. Then, she will close your incision and send you to recovery.
This is not the end of the process. All of the sensations in your skin will not return automatically. Over time, your new nerves will grow stronger and the feeling will slowly return to your breasts.
After Neurotization surgery
We will go over your aftercare instructions before discharging you from our care. Recovery times can vary, depending on what surgeries are performed. You will need time to allow your breasts to heal. All of the sensations in your skin will not return automatically. Over time, your new nerve fibers will grow stronger and the feeling will slowly return to your breasts. You may have several follow-up appointments for Dr. Spiegel to evaluate your flap to make sure it remains healthy while you regenerate the nerve fibers.
Recover your Breast Sensations
Would you like to learn more about neurotization with Dr. Spiegel? Neurotization with Dr. Spiegel's expertise in microvascular surgery can bring feeling back to your breast skin after a mastectomy and breast reconstruction. We provide one-on-one neurotization consultations with our board-certified plastic and reconstructive surgeon at Aldona J. Spiegel, M.D. in Houston, TX. Contact our surgical team to see if you are a candidate for this surgery.