One of the most controversial topics in plastic surgery surrounds the question as to whether injecting fat after breast reconstruction is safe. What is the purpose of fat injections?
The intention of injecting fat after breast reconstruction surgery is to eliminate the appearance of wrinkles and dimples, and to enhance the overall appearance of the newly reconstructed breasts.
Gregory Scott, MD, ASPS Member Surgeon and study co-author, is an advocate for fat injections. The study conducted to test the safety of the procedure affirmed his belief that fat injections are not only safe, but help enhance the appearance of the breasts following reconstructive surgery.
“My reconstruction patients could not be happier with the improvement fat transfer gives to the appearance of their breasts,” said Scott. “The initial implant reconstruction sometimes leaves them with contour deformities or wrinkling, but fat injections can correct these problems and give their breasts a smoother, softer, more natural appearance.”
The study examined 21 subjects who received a total of 42 fat transfers for contour deformities or wrinkling. Each procedure was performed about nine months after the initial reconstructive surgery. The plastic surgeons took the fat from the patients’ stomach or upper thigh and injected it directly into the breasts. According to the authors of the study, the fat injections proved to:
• Be safe
• Improve the breast shape
• Correct the implant wrinkling
Despite the study results, there still remains controversy as to the safety of the procedure. Some of the opposing members noted that there are still issues that have not been thoroughly investigated, including:
• Fat may calcify in the breast and interfere with mammogram results
• The amount of fat that is needed to adequately enlarge the breast
• The amount of fat that could potentially be absorbed by the body
Opposing surgeons also argue that the testing that has been done thus far has taken significant amounts of time and has not proven to enhance the breast size very much.
So, although the study authors seem to be satisfied with the results, fat injections still remain controversial among plastic surgeons. As some of the surgeons noted, this is an evolving procedure that needs to be thoroughly evaluated. With the number of breast augmentations performed each year, there is a demand for new techniques that will better the procedure results. In 2007, alone, there were nearly 348,000 breast augmentation procedures and more than 57,000 breast reconstructions performed.
Despite the controversy surrounding fat injections, the good news is that researchers are continuing to look for advancements in plastic surgery that will continue to improve the results of these procedures.
Since 2004, The Patients Advantage is fast becoming the largest matchmaker of board-certified plastic surgeons in the world and is recognized as a leading information source on cosmetic and reconstructive plastic surgery – matching over 7,000 people with plastic surgeons in 2008.
Click here to learn more.