Plastic surgeon Dr. Allen Gabriel recently completed clinical trials to determine whether Botox injections could provide relief for breast cancer survivors suffering from post-operative pain following mastectomy and breast reconstruction.
Not only did the muscle-relaxing injections prove to make trial participants more comfortable, Chris Durst, a 58-year-old breast cancer survivor and one of Dr. Gabriel’s patients, reports feeling zero post-operative pain following Botox injections.
“They’d [medical professionals would ask] say, ‘On a scale of one to ten?’ I’d said, ‘I’m a zero.’ Then they’d say, ‘You’re kidding?’ and I’d say, ‘Nope, I’m not, I’m just completely comfortable,’” said Durst.
Dr. Gabriel looked to Botox to help mastectomy patients who choose to have their breasts reconstructed using tissue expanders and breast implants, as the process of stretching the skin and muscles of the chest can be quite painful.
“As you’re pressing against a very thick muscle that’s very active on a daily basis, that’s when the pain and discomfort occurs,” said Dr. Gabriel.
During the trials, which included 30 breast reconstruction patients, Dr. Gabriel administered Botox injections to the chest muscles of a test group and injections of saline solution to a placebo group. The test group was reportedly more comfortable and experienced less pain after surgery than the placebo group.
“It’s been very exciting to see something that we read online; thought that it was a problem and now we have a solution,” said Dr. Gabriel.
As the millions of patients who have sought Botox injections for wrinkle reduction, excessive sweating and migraine treatment already know, Botox cost is not insignificant, especially when several units of the product are needed to achieve pain relief.
However, given the fact that the cost of Botox injections is often covered by insurance when used for FDA-approved pain management purposes, it is likely that Botox used for breast reconstruction pain management would also be covered if the procedure gains FDA approval.
“It is important for us to remember, unfortunately we are taking away part of their femininity; that’s how people look at it and [so we need to] do everything we can to support what’s going to make them [the patient] happy,” said Dr. Gabriel.