For breast cancer survivors, 10 CCs of love

Pumped up: Patient Rhonda Bayrami (center), Dr. Neil Tanna (left) and surgeon Alan Kadison discuss the AeroForm breast tissue expansion technology.

A breakthrough “tissue expander system” is offering new reconstruction options to breast cancer survivors.

Calling it the “first significant innovation in breast reconstruction in over 40 years,” surgeons at Northwell Health’s Long Island Jewish Medical Center spotlighted AeroForm – a needle-free, patient-controlled, wireless remote-controlled tissue expander system – during a recent press event featuring patient Rhonda Bayrami.

Bayrami, a 53-year-old Whitestone resident, discussed the revolutionary breast-constructive system – and actually employed it – during the conference, held this month at the New Hyde Park-based medical center.

AeroForm, an alternative to traditional silicon-filled expanders manufactured by California-based medical device-maker AirXpanders Inc., was conceived by Silicon Valley-based plastic surgeon Dan Jacobs. It received FDA approval in 2016, following prior permissions in Europe (2012) and Australia (2013).

Using a handheld wireless dosage controller, patients can comfortably and quickly release 10 cubic centimeters of carbon dioxide up to three times daily – gradually inflating a tissue expander system implanted after procedures such as a bilateral mastectomy.

That was the surgery that Bayrami and her doctors agreed would give her the best chance after she was diagnosed with breast cancer in March. During her April 26 operation, doctors discovered her cancer was already at Stage 3, an advanced level, confirming the decision to go for a bilateral mastectomy – the surgical removal of both breasts.

After the life-saving procedure, surgeons referred Bayrami – a former gymnast and current personal trainer who was eager to explore breast-reconstruction options – to Neil Tanna, Northwell Health’s associate program director of plastic surgery. Tanna suggested the AeroForm system, noting “two key benefits.”

“No more painful needles or multiple trips to the doctor’s office,” Tanna said. “And most important, the patient can choose how often and when to dose.”

Noting more than 100,000 mastectomy procedures annually in the United States – with about 43 percent of those patients opting for reconstructive surgery after the removal of the cancerous breasts – Tanna said the AeroForm system will “impact how we deliver breast cancer care to women.”

“This is a tremendous development,” the doctor added. “This technology allows women who are their most vulnerable to re-engage themselves actively in their own care.

“It is truly a revolutionary development.”

Bayrami, who demonstrated the handheld device during the conference, said she “consider(s) the AeroForm procedure to be a lifesaver.”

“I’ve devoted my entire life to health and wellness, so this news came as a shock to me – just as it shocks every woman who receives a diagnosis of breast cancer,” Bayrami said. “I am so grateful to these surgeons who saved my life.

“And, to the person who invented the Aeroform tissue expander – I love you.”

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