Will sensation return after reconstruction?

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Question from Judy: Will normal sensation return after reconstruction, if two years have already gone by and the numbness is still there?
Answers - Maurice Nahabedian In general, in women who have reconstruction using their own tissues, there will be a return of sensation in about 50% of patients by one year. If the sensation has not returned by two years, it would be very unlikely that any sensation will be restored. The reason for this is that the sensory nerves to the breast have the potential to regenerate and grow into the newly constructed breast. The rate of nerve growth is extremely slow and generally progresses at the rate of one inch per month. Usually this process is completed by one year's time.
Marisa Weiss, M.D. It's possible that for women who've also had a lot of chemotherapy and radiation that the time for nerve regrowth might be somewhat slowed. For women whose breast area remains numb, some women have been able to fantasize and imagine breast and nipple sensation in a way like they used to experience. This may take some practice and maybe even lessons on visualization or meditation...and maybe even help from erotic literature. Sometimes it's fun to be resourceful and experiment a little.

The Ask-the-Expert Online Conference called Breast Reconstruction featured Maurice Nahabedian, M.D. and Marisa Weiss, M.D. answering your questions about different techniques in breast reconstruction, the pros and cons of implants and body tissue transfers, when you might want to reconstruct, and many more issues related to rebuilding your breast/s after breast cancer surgery.

Editor's Note: This conference took place in November 2003.

The materials presented in these conferences do not necessarily reflect the views of Breastcancer.org. A qualified healthcare professional should be consulted before using any therapeutic product or regimen discussed. All readers should verify all information and data before employing any therapies described here.

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