Breast Reconstruction Surgery and Fat Grafting

Autologous fat transfer, or fat grafting, is slowly emerging as a latest breast reconstruction surgery technique. During the procedure, fat tissue is taken from other body parts, such as the buttocks ,belly, and thighs – through liposuction. The tissue, which is turned into liquid, is injected into the breast to recreate it.

Lipofilling is another type of fat grafting. It has been considered as a safe reconstructive technique, and has been used over the years to correct subtle differences in the balance, position, or shape of the reconstructed breast. Since many doctors have had a lot of success with lipofilling, they thought that it is possible to create an entire breast with the use of fat.

Some might be tempted to think of fat grafting as a relatively ‘safer’ procedure,  mainly because it doesn’t involve a major surgical procedure. However, experts are not yet sure how successful it will turn out in the long run. Fat grafting is a new practice, and there are no major clinical studies done on the procedure. Existing studies only involve less than a hundred women, with the average follow-up time of less than four years.

It might also be wise to consider that if fat grafting is unsuccessful and you decide to go for DIEP flap breast reconstruction surgery, you may have already used up a vital source of tissue such as the buttocks and abdominal area. This is also an important thing that you should consider.

Depending on the final outcome you want to achieve, you may have to undergo a couple of fat grafting procedures that will be done over a few months, under general anesthesia.

Here are some of the risks and benefits of fat grafting.

Benefits:

  • Fat grafting uses your own tissue compared to an implant.
  • Some women have reported some sensation on their reconstructed breast, and the breast feels soft to the touch.
  • Fat is removed from unwanted areas.

Risks/Disadvantages:

  • You might need at least six sessions to get the desired results.
  • Since there have been no major clinical studies done on fat grafting, we are unsure if this technique will work for all women. It might be worth considering that some small studies have reported good results.
  • The body might reabsorb the injected fat, resulting to loss of breast volume in time.
  • You may use up a key tissue source for DIEP flap breast reconstruction if the fat grafting procedure is unsuccessful.

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