Newswise — CLEVELAND — When Shareen Hood had a unilateral mastectomy a year ago, she couldn't get her head around spending another minute in doctors' offices or in pain. For that reason, she chose not to have breast implants after surgery. Little did she know that by waiting, she would one day have the option to reverse that decision while avoiding what she considered to be major drawbacks - pain and inconvenience.

University Hospitals Plastic Surgeon Joseph Khouri, MD, explains that patients typically are implanted with tissue expanders either over or under the muscle at the time of surgery. At weekly office visits for up to eight weeks, they are subjected to needle sticks and injections of up to 300 cc fluid in order to expand the breast volume in anticipation of a second stage to place a permanent implant.

"It's painful. It takes time out of patients' schedules. It takes four to five days to recover each time. And it increases risk of needle-born infections which can postpone reconstruction six months," Dr. Khouri said. “We have a better way."

All of that can now be reduced with the recently FDA approved AeroForm - an air expander placed over the muscle during the initial breast surgery.  UH Department of Plastic Surgery is the first Northeast Ohio medical group approved to offer the procedure out of the trial phase, meaning the procedure is covered by insurance.

"What we've done is revolutionary," said UH Plastic Surgeon Tobias Long, MD. "It gives the patient the ability to expand at home with remote control, using carbon dioxide, releasing a thimble size of air up to four times a day as opposed to saline which is heavy and painful."

Shareen is happy with her results. "There is really no pain while filling it up. No needles. And no weekly office visits,” she said. She will soon undergo replacement of her AeroForm expander with a permanent smooth silicone implant, with a matching breast lift on the other side.

"We do this 100 percent for our patients," said Dr. Khouri. "The cost is the same. It's simply to decrease infections and increase quality of life."


About University Hospitals / Cleveland, Ohio

Founded in 1866, University Hospitals serves the needs of patients through an integrated network of 18 hospitals, more than 50 health centers and outpatient facilities, and 200 physician offices in 16 counties throughout northern Ohio. The system’s flagship academic medical center, University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center, located in Cleveland’s University Circle, is affiliated with Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. The main campus also includes University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital, ranked among the top children’s hospitals in the nation; University Hospitals MacDonald Women's Hospital, Ohio's only hospital for women; University Hospitals Harrington Heart & Vascular Institute, a high-volume national referral center for complex cardiovascular procedures; and University Hospitals Seidman Cancer Center, part of the NCI-designated Case Comprehensive Cancer Center. UH is home to some of the most prestigious clinical and research programs in the nation, including cancer, pediatrics, women's health, orthopedics, radiology, neuroscience, cardiology and cardiovascular surgery, digestive health, transplantation and urology. UH Cleveland Medical Center is perennially among the highest performers in national ranking surveys, including “America’s Best Hospitals” from U.S. News & World Report. UH is also home to Harrington Discovery Institute at University Hospitals – part of The Harrington Project for Discovery & Development. UH is one of the largest employers in Northeast Ohio with 28,000 physicians and employees. 

Advancing the Science of Health and the Art of Compassion is UH’s vision for benefitting its patients into the future, and the organization’s unwavering mission is To Heal. To Teach. To Discover. Follow UH on Facebook @UniversityHospitals and Twitter @UHhospitals. For more information, visit