The PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center in Vancouver, Washington is pioneering the use of Botox injections in breast reconstruction surgeries for women who have undergone mastectomies in order to reduce recovery pain. Conducted by the chief of plastic surgery of the center, Dr. Allen Gabriel, MD, the experiment was part of an effort to reduce the pain associated with breast reconstruction, especially when the procedure involves tissue expansion.
Gabriel worked in collaboration with G. Patrick Maxwell, MD to perform a small randomized clinical trial with 30 patients that showed Botox’s effectiveness in reducing painful muscle spasms after reconstructive breast surgery. Traditionally, after the removal of a part of the breast tissue during a mastectomy, doctors implant an expander between layers of the chest muscle. It works gradually in expanding the skin and tissue in order for a silicone or saline breast implant to be more easily inserted, and leading to a more aesthetic and natural-looking appearance.
With the Botox injections, women not only felt less pain, but they also experienced full tissue expansion more quickly, compared to the group who received placebo. The results of the trial were presented by Dr. Gabriel at the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, and the medical team has be