Dr. Allen Gabriel, MD, FACS Announces Results from Clinical Trial, Botox Injections After Breast Reconstruction Surgery Reduce Patient Suffering

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Breast reconstruction surgery after a mastectomy is a significantly painful procedure, particularly when tissue expansion is required. Allen Gabriel, MD, Chief of Plastic Surgery at PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center in Vancouver, has pioneered the use of Botox injections after the surgery, paving the way for a less painful postoperative experience for his patients.

When I think of all of the pain I avoided and the amount of drugs I didn’t have to consume, I become more and more grateful to Dr. Gabriel for pioneering this use of Botox.

Allen Gabriel, MD, FACS Chief of Plastic Surgery at PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center in Vancouver, Washington is pioneering the use of Botox injections after breast reconstruction surgery to reduce patient pain. The procedure has traditionally been a particularly painful one, especially when tissue expansion is required. Dr. Gabriel is pleased to announce the findings from his clinical trial below.

After a woman has undergone a mastectomy, which includes the removal of a substantial amount of breast tissue, an expander is often implanted between layers of the chest muscle. This temporary implant gradually expands the skin and tissue so that a silicone or saline breast implant can be accommodated, ultimately creating a more aesthetic and natural-looking breast.

Dr. Gabriel, along with his collaborator G. Patrick Maxwell, MD, conducted a small randomized clinical trial with 30 patients that showed Botox’s effectiveness in reducing painful muscle spasms following reconstructive breast surgery. The women in the study who received a placebo reported more pain than those who were given Botox. Additionally, the women who received Botox experienced full tissue expansion more quickly than the placebo group.

Dr. Gabriel presented his findings at the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery and has used the injections in multiple reconstructions since that time with excellent results.

“Many patients have been afraid of expanders because they’ve heard the procedure is so painful,” says Dr. Gabriel. “Now that Botox can reduce their discomfort, women should be more confident about their recovery when choosing the expander/implant-based reconstruction.”

Cindy Horenstein received Botox injections after Dr. Gabriel performed her breast reconstruction. “Since going through cancer treatment, I have connected, both online and in person, with other survivors and learned that not everyone receives Botox with their surgery,” she says. “I hear of so many other women who suffer needlessly.”

Susan Pagel, another patient whose reconstruction included Botox, reports that she endured tissue expansion with relative ease despite warnings from other women about the extreme pain they experienced without the benefit of Botox.

“While some pain and discomfort were a part of my experience (as one would expect with any such invasive surgery), the pain I had was managed easily with anti-inflammatory medications,” she says. “Because that was the case, my body’s daily energy was directed into my recovery rather than into handling pain. I healed remarkably well, and I think this was due in large part to the fact that I was not constantly managing severe pain.”

As a result, Pagel was able to receive breast implants within a few short months of her tissue expansion. She adds, “Being able to go back to my life healthy, healed, and looking like my usual self in such a short time was due, I believe, to the fact that my body was not consumed with pain following my surgeries.”

Women who are facing mastectomy and breast reconstruction surgery might wish to speak to their surgeons about the possibility of using Botox for pain control.

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Liliana Molina
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