Updated: Thursday, November 7 2013, 10:43 PM CST
Valerie Schwarzwaelder will never forget that day when her battle with cancer would take an intimate piece of her.
“I just remember sitting in my bed with my cap on at that moment saying I don’t want to do this because I was scared,” she says.
Twenty minutes before she went into surgery for a double mastectomy she took a picture for her father. Valerie says she had her I don’t want to do this face on.
“I was trying to smile for my dad, he was taking the picture, but I couldn’t,” Valerie said. “I wanted to hop off that bed and run.”
When Valerie woke up from surgery she says it was like part of her identity, her sexuality was cut out of her and she didn’t know if she’d get it back.
“I remember waking up and them taking off the bandages and seeing what I looked like and I cried for weeks because they were gone,” she says.
Valerie’s breast reconstruction took months, but a woman’s journey to become whole again is about to radically change thanks to a 3D printer.
“We did start with a simple ink jet printer,” said Laura Bosworth who is the CEO and Co-Founder of TeVido BioDevices.
But there is nothing simple about what that printer is producing. TeVido BioDevices is using a woman’s cells to print breast tissue.
“Our first product would be for rebuilding the nipple,” said Bosworth.
The lab is at the University of Texas El Paso. Bosworth says they started out with a modified HP Deskjet printer and instead of filling the cartridges with ink they injected them with biomaterial and printed out skin.
“We have a combination of living cells and ingredients that we use inside these cartridges and layer by layer we build up either the nipple or lumpectomy void to match what is what you need and what you are missing,” Bosworth said.
“We would be able to use a woman’s own cells and match whatever she has existing and create something that would be more permanent.”
Plastic surgeon Dr. Ned Snyder says it has the promise to be a game changer for breast reconstruction.
“It’s pretty exciting,” Snyder said. “They’re going to print a nipple and areola that basically goes on as a single phase but secondly the outcomes are going to be significantly improved.”
And, unlike skin flaps and tattoos the entire look and feel of the breast will be more natural.
“It’s going to be much more lifelike,” said Dr. Snyder. “They’re going to be able to mimic pigments from the other nipple and it’s going to be real skin.”
Dr. Snyder says as the technology improves they’ll be doing 3D printing of entire breasts.
Valerie’s hopes the technology is tweaked tested and approved when it comes time to replacing her implants in about ten years. TeVido BioDevices say it will be doing clinical trials over the next two years and hope to be using this 3D printed breast tissue for surgeries in the next three to five years.
Valerie’s journey through breast reconstruction was not easy but she smiles in pictures again. One of her favorite pictures after she was whole again was when she completed a 5K mud run.
“That’s the first time I’ve ever done a 5k run,” Valerie said.
Now after beating breast cancer Valerie says she smiles with her I made it face.
“I was so happy after finishing it. I just felt so good,” she says.
By Walt Maciborski
•By: Katie Johnson
PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – It’s a party in Palm Beach Gardens on a Wednesday night complete with champagne, but it’s not your average party. The party was for women interested in learning more about Botox. And that’s not the only thing that made the party different. All of the women at the party were under the age of 30.
Liz Plummer, 28, hosted the party. She invited some friends to learn about Botox injections.
An Estetica employee talked to the group encouraging the main reason the women say they were there.
“If you prevent the wrinkles from forming, then you won’t have to maintain them when you’re older,” she said.
Plummer has gotten Botox injections several times over the past three years.
“I’ve been making this terrible face since I was a little girl. Anytime I didn’t get my way I’d do this,” she scowled as she explained her reasoning. “And so over the years I had a frown line and it started to bother me, probably started to bother me when I was 20 or 21.”
Plastic Surgeon Greg DeLange says he’s seeing more young women come to his office for Botox. He says his youngest patient is 19.
“Quite commonly, women will have wrinkles at an early age,” DeLange explained. “They will form frown lines, they’ll form little crow’s feet and little forehead lines. Some women have a lot and some women don’t have any. The ones that are bothered by it come in early.”
Doctors say this trend among younger women started over the past couple of years. They say the main reason behind it is to take preventative action.
“We can basically stop the clock so you don’t have to reverse the clock years down the road,” DeLange said.
DeLange says there are things young women should watch for if considering Botox.
“The doctor should take their time evaluating the patient,” he said.
He says women should be concerned if the doctor gives them unrealistic expectations or try to push them into having a procedure they’re not comfortable to have.
Botox costs $300 for an area of your face. The effects of it can last up to six months.
Dr. DeLange says it’s safe even at a young age and you shouldn’t have any long-term ill effects.