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December 06, 2018

WATCH: Penn surgeons perform first robotic bilateral breast reconstruction

Women's Health Plastic Surgery
Penn_Plastic_Surgeons_Robotics Courtesy/Penn Medicine

Penn Medicine surgeons perform the first robotic bilateral breast reconstruction surgery.

Penn Medicine plastic surgeons have performed the first robotic bilateral breast reconstruction surgery, a minimally-invasive procedure that expedites recovery time and eliminates the use of narcotic painkillers.

The procedure – which took place earlier this month – removed tissue from the lower abdomen to rebuild the breast. The surgical robot allows surgeons to make a smaller incision into the abdominal wall muscles, limiting the risk of hernia and other complications. 

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Dr. Suhail Kanchwala, who led the surgical team, partnered with Dr. Ian Soriano, who specializes in minimally invasive procedures, to develop a laparoscopic technique that reduces the use of narcotics, even while under anesthesia. 

Kanchwala used the laparoscopic technique to perform more than 120 surgeries before adding the surgical robot into the mix. The robot allows surgeons to make larger cuts to the abdominal muscle and collect blood vessels more easily.

"We've been using a minimally-invasive, laparoscopic technique to reduce pain and get patients home more quickly without using narcotics for more than a year," Kanchwala said in a statement. "The addition of the surgical robot allows for greater precision and is the next step in our evolution."

Penn surgeons perform more than 700 tissue-based reconstructions each year – the most in the world. The procedure typically produces a more natural appearance, due to the use of the patient's own tissue. It also stands as a more permanent solution, given that implant-based reconstructions often require additional procedures. 

Snippets of the surgery can be seen in the Penn Medicine video below. 

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