Most breast cancer patients who undergo a mastectomy have some kind of reconstruction done to make their breasts look more like they once did. However, this method can be painful and time-consuming. Many women have uncomfortable expanders put in to stretch the tissue, attend several doctor appointments to have those expanders filled, and then endure yet another surgery to have the expanders replaced with implants.
And even after all that time, effort, and pain, implants still don’t work out quite right for every woman. They can rupture or deflate, cause pain or a change in sensation in the area, cause the tissue to atrophy or become deformed, and more. They place patients at risk of having to have another operation down the road to remove or replace the implant or to mend something in the surrounding area.
Some 20 percent of women have their implants removed within eight to ten years because of some type of complication or discomfort. Recently, more and more women are opting to “go flat” from the get-go to avoid complications down the road. But with that decision comes the fear of losing one’s femininity and social acceptance.
But what if there were an easier way to get the natural look of your breasts back? Dr. Wey Leong, part of a team of researchers who created a small start-up company called Polumiros, says there is.
Polumiros has developed a specialized product called ReFilx—short for regenerative filler matrix—which can be used to replace the missing breast tissue after a lumpectomy or mastectomy. This filler acts as a sort of scaffold, allowing breast tissue to regrow in the spaces between and inside of each ReFilx molecule. Then the molecules slowly begin to dissolve, leaving healthy new tissue in their place.
ReFilx is safe enough to be inserted during the initial procedure, so patients don’t have to deal with follow-up surgeries. It is also a lifelong solution and will never require extra procedures to replace or remove it, since it is not a permanent foreign body within the patient’s tissue.
Dr. Leong and his team have won the Joule Innovation grant recipient for their innovative work with ReFilx. Check out the video below to learn more about their fantastic invention.
Elizabeth Nelson is a wordsmith, an alumna of Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, a four-leaf-clover finder, and a grammar connoisseur. She has lived in west Michigan since age four but loves to travel to new (and old) places. In her free time, she. . . wait, what’s free time?