Fat Grafting for Breast Reconstruction Following Breast Cancer Surgery
Dr. Tushar Patel Explains The Benefits of This Widely Used Technique
At the Institute for Advanced Reconstruction at the Plastic Surgery Center of New Jersey, we understand the physical and emotional challenges of breast surgery following a cancer diagnosis. For many women who have experienced breast cancer surgery, an important factor in their recovery is to reclaim as much of their normal life as possible. That’s where breast reconstruction surgery comes in.
Increasingly, I utilize fat grafting—with or without other reconstruction methods– to enhance breast shape and produce as natural results as possible. In the case of mastectomy of a single breast, fat grafting also assists in creating optimal symmetry with the patient’s remaining breast. Fat grafting can be done in breast reconstruction occurring immediately following mastectomy surgery, reconstruction done at a later date, or as an improvement on prior reconstruction.
Fat grafting, also called autologous (referring to the patient’s own body fat) fat transfer, or lipofilling, has emerged as one of my breast reconstruction techniques of choice. In fat grafting, fat tissue is removed from other parts of the body – usually the thighs, belly, and buttocks – by liposuction. The tissue is then processed into a semi-liquid form and injected to create an improved contour of the breast. This method relies on using the patient’s own tissue along with a prior flap if performed, with or without an implant, and can be used to produce natural results, as well as to correct any visible inconsistencies in breast shape. Fat grafting is relatively easy to perform, with a local anesthetic to the area from which the fat is harvested.
In our practice, we employ a wide range of breast cancer reconstruction methods, including tissue expansion, pedicled TRAM flap, latissimus flap, free TRAM flap, and DIEP and SIEA flap. We work with each patient individually to select the best method for her. I am particularly proud that we are also renowned for our compassion and sensitivity in the area of breast reconstructive surgery following cancer diagnosis.
Increasingly, women are being informed of their rights for breast reconstruction following cancer surgery, which is required to be covered by insurance as a result of a federal law passed in 1998.
In 2012, The American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) released its Guiding Principles on fat grafting for breast reconstruction surgery. The document states that “the existing evidence suggests autologous fat grafting as an effective option in breast reconstruction following mastectomy while demonstrating moderate to significant aesthetic improvement. In addition, the available evidence also cites autologous fat grafting as a useful modality for alleviating post-mastectomy pain syndrome.” (2012 Post-Mastectomy Fat Graft/Fat Transfer – ASPS Guiding Principles)
All of the surgeons at The Institute for Advanced Reconstruction at The Plastic Surgery Center of New Jersey are experts in fat grafting and breast reconstruction. Please contact our office for more information.