Study Supports Repurposing of Body Fat for Breast Reconstruction

As more effective fat grafting and fat transfer procedures are developed and researched, plastic surgeons are setting their sights on body fat repurposing procedures as an alternative to implants.

A small study conducted by researchers of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine shows that cosmetic breast reconstruction in slim, athletic cancer patients without enough fat elsewhere in the body, is effective with a certain fat transfer technique.

Plastic and reconstructive surgeons at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine reported results of their procedure in the online version of the Microsurgery journal after reviewing results on cadavers and 12 breast cancer patients over the course of a year.

Ariel N. Rad, M.D., Ph.D., one of the assistant professors of cosmetic surgery and plastic reconstructive surgery at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, explains “when implants aren’t used, the most common technique for reconstructing breasts after a mastectomy is to make breast tissue from a flap of fat and skin from the abdominal region…thin, athletic women don’t have enough tissue there. But even they often have some excess fatty tissue in the space between the hip and waist. For them, using those love handles is a new option.” (Source: Medical News Today)

The fat grafting procedure is  relatively simple process, and involves removing several milliliters of fat from an existing fatty pocket, sterilizing it, and separating the fluid to extract stem cells and pure fatty tissue. The pure fluid is then re-injected into the body in the desired areas, and it typically only takes a few days for the body’s tissues to adapt.

Surgeons who have tested this procedure have been able to achieve good cosmetic results.  If the patient is a good candidate for the procedure, the overall effect can improve the contour and shape of the waist and hip area.

Further Reading

  • Women undergoing cancer treatment are undergoing both a physical and an emotional battle. When cancer affects the breast tissue, some or all of the breast needs to be removed permanently. Experts agree that women who get a breast reconstruction procedure right after mastectomy often experience higher levels of self-confidence and feel better about their situation than those that don’t. Many cancer centers around the country offer individualized treatment plans so that patients have easy access to experts and can set up a complete lifestyle plan after surgery. The lifestyle plan may need to include breast reconstruction surgery.

  • Orlando plastic surgeon Dr. Jon Paul Trevisani is using an innovative tissue-strengthening technique to improve outcomes of breast augmentation and breast revision surgeries. Dr. Trevisani says that Acellular Dermal Matrix can strengthen the breast tissue during any type of cosmetic or revision breast surgery and works to reinforce and support the existing breast tissue to create a more natural appearance.

  • Computer-aided design (CAD) technologies are often used by architects to map out blueprints and create designs for buildings and bridges, and the same technologies used in the design field are now being used in the medical field. Researchers recently discovered a way to use CAD tools and technologies when creating moulds of breasts during the breast tissue reconstruction process. A study was published in IOP Publishing’s Biofabrication journal, and showed how researchers were able to use computer-aided design techniques to create a very accurate mould of a breast for use by a breast reconstruction surgeon.