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Never heard of this one!!!!

Posts: 2515
Joined: May 2009

This is something I've never heard of....my sister in law had a bilateral mastectomy with tram flap reconstruction on Monday.....(she lives in NJ..I'm in NC) she called me yesterday...I couldn't believe what she told me.....they used leeches yes, I said leeches, on her "new" breasts to keep the blood flowing in all the newly attached blood vessels....she texted me a picture of it! YIKES! and YIKES! I googled it and was amazed to learn how often leeches are used in today's medicine...For reattaching severed limbs, fingers, etc. and in breast reconstruction....they used them for two days on her...I think I would have freaked out..she said when they told her they were going to use leeches she said "what?". ...She's one of the strongest women I know....She said that nurses and doctors came in the ICU and asked if they could "see" the leeches in action...finally she said she just left her gown open....lol

Anyway, any one else ever heard of this?
Hugs, Nancy

AnnieTherese's picture
Posts: 67
Joined: Aug 2012

Ummmmm, wellllll, I know it was used many, many years ago and successfully...I know maggots are still used today...proper ones grown in laboratories, so I see no reason not to use leeches....not as common as it used to be I'm sure. Don't know that I'd agree to having it done to me though !!! As long as she's comfortable with it...why not !!

Posts: 992
Joined: Sep 2009

I would have a big problem with that! Yuk!


SIROD's picture
Posts: 2199
Joined: Jun 2010

Dear Annie Therese,

That is the key words "proper ones grown in laboratories" not the kind you find in lakes and rivers. I use to give tours in a historical home and one old general had been a physician (a founder of Mass General Hospital) and I often mentioned that he did use leeches in his practice along with a lot of alcohol. However, big difference in the kind they use today versus the kind that was used in the 1790.

I never like the looks of leeches but if it was medical warrant, I would say yes. I would avoid looking at them. Some old remedies remain timeless.


Posts: 6587
Joined: Oct 2010

I have heard for other medical issues..but I think I would have to draw the line and say no..personally..

I HOPE all goes well for her...speedy recovery


mamolady's picture
Posts: 796
Joined: May 2011

I am so glad they did not do that for me! Also glad this was posted after my surgery!


salls41's picture
Posts: 340
Joined: Apr 2012

but soooo glad I didn't have to do it! Best wishes for speedy recovery to your SIL.

missrenee's picture
Posts: 2137
Joined: Apr 2010

but not recently (like in the last 100 years!). Looking at the surgery site was gross enough for me--if I saw a bunch of moving leeches, I think I would have been moved to the coronary care unit! For me, the yuk factor is over the top. But, hope they are gone now and she is doing well.


Hugs, Renee

VickiSam's picture
Posts: 9085
Joined: Aug 2009

.. leeches used years ago, and have been brought back in the 21Century ..

Altho, it would gross me out, I guess I would grow to love them, and eventually
give them all ... names.

If I am not mistaken .. alloderm .. which is something .. many, many, many
of 'us' breast cancer mastectomy (including myself) have all alloderm inserted
into our reconstructive site or sites ..

here's a few sentences regarding alloderm:

Jan 3, 2012 – Implants, Soft Tissue, AlloDerm. AlloDerm is a soft-tissue implant fabricated by a proprietary method of processing cadaveric skin....

AlloDerm® is created from donated human skin. LifeCell’s patented process removes all of the cells from the donated skin, while retaining all of the important biochemical and structural components. This makes AlloDerm® an acellular tissue product which will not result in rejection. Since AlloDerm® is derived from human tissue, there may be a concern that it might harbor disease carrying viruses. However, with more than one-million implants and grafts to date, the safety of AlloDerm® has been proven, as there has never been any evidence of viral disease transmission to any patients. Tissue donors are screened and tested for transmissible diseases, and a comprehensive review of each donor is completed by a medical director before allowing the tissue to be processed

Yes, cadaveric skin

Vicki Sam

Posts: 245
Joined: May 2012

without a burnt up tongue. Makes ya think about that word "harvesting" doesn't it? Becky feels like heaving.

lynn1950's picture
Posts: 2574
Joined: Jun 2008

Reading about leeches dredged up a memory. I grew up in Chicago and there used to be (maybe still is) a pharmacy on Wabash in the Loop that displayed a big jar of leeches in its store window. I remember staring at them as a child. xoxoxo Lynn

Posts: 245
Joined: May 2012

Nancy, is this like the pink tutu thing? You wouldn't be pulling our legs would you?

Posts: 232
Joined: Jul 2011

While not having had them myself, I did hear that they were using them again in many cases. I guess it's like anything else - what goes around comes back around.

Posts: 2515
Joined: May 2009

She actually texted me a picture.....eeeeeeewwwww! She named them "Larry the leeches"....eeeeeeewwww! It was either try the leeches or go back into surgery, after already under going 11 hrs. Of surgery....but still......

Hugs, Nancy

Posts: 191
Joined: Jun 2012

and Yuk!

AngieD's picture
Posts: 504
Joined: Sep 2011

It is true. My daughter is a pharmacist at a large university hospital and the pharmacy department takes care of the leeches orders. I knew they were used in re-attaching limbs, but did not know about breast surgeries.

RE's picture
Posts: 4644
Joined: Feb 2004

Oh I am afraid I would have to politely decline, I would surely be freaked! Your sister in law is quite a strong gal, I hope she is doing well! Sending her PINK hugs!


Bella Luna's picture
Bella Luna
Posts: 1579
Joined: Aug 2009

That is amazing. Let us know how your sister in law is doing. I am curious to hear the results of this treatment. I am not a fan of bugs, but if they can help with the recovery process, why not.

CypressCynthia's picture
Posts: 4014
Joined: Oct 2009

I have heard of leeches being used in many medical procedures, but not breast reconstruction. Interesting. I know they are efficient for removing blood congestion and their saliva contains a substance that prevents clotting, so should keep blood flowing. thanks for the info. I learn something new every day!

Posts: 3660
Joined: Aug 2009

I've heard of using leeches to stimutate blood flow and/or removing clots. Many years ago a friend contracted an infection or 'something' in Nam that was totally resisting all treatment until a nurse who had been in a Pacific Thearte POW camp saw him. Long story short - she got in touch with a Dr who had also been in the camp and maggots were used - he's still 'here' and did not loose his arm, though at the time he had been 'given up' on and shipped stateside to die.

There is a lot to be learned from 'medicine' that did a lot over many years when modern medicine doesn't work. Mold on bread is where penicillen came from. Turpentine and sugar will iften heal sores.

'Leeches' can also refer to a plant protien the lives in stagnant water in tropical/subtropical water that can invade via a skin opening in horses, dogs and humans - it has no retationship to the animal called a leech. Wish I could remember more about it but one of the best Vets I've had did his Doctoratal Thesis on it back in the '70's.

Winyan - The Power Within


Posts: 332
Joined: Sep 2010

Have heard of the use of them but don't know if I could do it. Guess if it works why not. Don't think I would even want to look at them on someone. Not into worms and things either. Look at what hey used to use and people are still walking around to tell the stories.


VickiSam's picture
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