One of the newest techniques for breast reconstruction involve utilization of the exciting benefits of fat grafting. Much research has been put forth into plastic surgery for harvesting of fat and its potential as stem cells. Fat grafting and transfer has been utilized both for breast augmentation but also in breast reconstruction for contouring of the breast after implant-based and flap-based reconstruction with excellent results.
After a lumpectomy or mastectomy, an innovative technique which has been implemented is performing this fat grafting and transfer technique to completely reconstruct a breast. This would involve no other scars or incisions, no foreign bodies or implants, and no complex flap procedures. Plus, additional benefits to the breast reconstruction include as close to normal sensation of the breasts along with the benefit of liposuction to harvest the fat from wherever there is spare fat! Working with your breast surgeon during the oncologic procedure for your breast, some fat is harvested during the same surgery, which in turn is placed back into the breast area. This will give a small breast mound immediately after the procedure. An external expander device is then used for several weeks after the initial procedure while you are sleeping. The expander will have the same benefits as the internal tissue expander, however it is simply worn on the outside as a vest, without having an implanted prosthetic. It has been shown to increase vascualrity, increase blood supply (important for radiated breasts especially), as well as expand the breast framework for which the fat will be placed in the future. Once adequate expansion has been obtained after several weeks of wearing the external expander vest, a simple outpatient procedure will be performed in which liposuction will be performed from areas where you have excess fat. Instead of wasting this fat, it will be harvested, washed, and then transferred back directly into the breast to give the additional volume to reconstruct the breast. The liposuction may be performed from the abdomen, flanks, hips, thighs, buttocks, etc., until enough fat has been obtained to give adequate volume for your reconstructed breast. Multiple micro-fat grafts will then be placed throughout the expanded breast framework within its well-vascularized bed. Sometimes this will take a few small outpatient procedures, separated by several weeks, to obtain the results. Fat grafting allows precise placement of where the fat should go in order to perfectly contour the breast shape. The newly-reconstructed breast mound has now been recreated with the use of only your own fat via liposuction with the hopes for a breast mound that looks and feels much like a “normal” breast. The results thus far have been superb and patients have raved about their overall results.
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