Bionic Breast

“…one breast was removed and reconstructed, with nipple sparing, and the other was changed to ‘match it’…No one told me that I would lose erotic sensation, and I waited a long, sad time to realize that the sensation that was, for me, dominant in my sexual arousal would never return.”

Cheryl Lilienstein, breast cancer survivor, commenting online to a New York Times article, 1/29/2017

Bionic Breast

Of more than 3.8 million female breast cancer survivors in the United States today, about a third have undergone mastectomy and hundreds of thousands have had breast reconstruction procedures. More than 100,000 women have one or both breasts removed each year. Simple mastectomy amputates all of the breast tissue, including the third through sixth intercostal nerves, leaving the breast numb. The resulting deafferentation leads to major adverse effects, including a disembodiment of the breasts, loss of touch-based affective communication, abolition of breast-centered erogenous touch, and, in many women, the development of chronic pain.

Our objective is to improve our understanding of female breast sensory function and develop a neuroprosthetic solution to the negative sensory sequelae of mastectomy using bionics. The Bionic Breast is an implantable, neuroprosthetic medical device that applies a combination of pressure sensor activation through implanted peripheral nerve electrodes and electrical stimulation to residual nerves to restore sensation and reduce chronic pain following mastectomy.

Take Part in a Bionic Breast Research Study!

Receive $40 for completing an interview or focus group!

If you are interested in taking part in this study or have any questions, please contact us:

phone: (773) 702-8254


We are women’s health researchers at the University of Chicago doing a research study to better understand the problem of breast numbness and people’s preferences and needs for a solution to restore breast sensation after breast cancer treatment. This study is for women who have had a mastectomy or are considering having a mastectomy, either to treat breast cancer or reduce their risk of developing breast cancer (BRCA+). Dr. Stacy Lindau, a gynecologist, is leading this study with breast surgeons Dr. Nora Jaskowiak, Dr. Summer Hanson, and Dr. Sarah Shubeck, and psychologist Dr. Amy Siston.

This study includes an in person or remote interview or focus group that takes about one hour to complete. We will ask you questions about your breast sensation, cancer and surgery history, and thoughts about a device we are developing to help preserve and restore breast sensation. Your participation in this research is voluntary and your answers will be confidential. If you take part in this study, you will be paid $40 for completing an interview or focus group.