It's hope revived for women who feel less than that, after a lumpectomy for breast cancer. Researchers from California-based company Cytori, claim that stem cells found in the ubiquitous tummy fat, can in fact be used to reconstruct breasts. If this is so, it would be killing two birds with one stone, a flatter belly and a bigger bust size.
Christened Celution, the procedure involves injecting a 'supercharged' fat mixture into the breast tissue after it has been taken through liposuction from the belly or bottom.
Stem cells are filtered out via centrifugation, then put into a cartridge for injection into the breasts within an hour.
While the initial change is small, the breasts gradually 'inflate' over a six-month period. The technique is outlined in the journal Chemical and Industry.
Says Cytori's director of clinical applications, Dr Kai Pinkernell: "The supercharged fat graft survives really well and fills in the volume defect left by a partial mastectomy." The technique is touted to offer huge medical and psychological benefits for this group of women, with around 300,000 new cases of breast cancer diagnosed in Europe every year.
Though Celution has been designed for lumpectomy or partial mastectomy patients, the company has plans to venture into cosmetic breast surgery as well.
At the same time, this technique is not absolutely new. Fat injections have become common practice among plastic surgeons during the last 15 years or so, according to Dr. Brian Kinney, a Beverly Hills plastic surgeon, and clinical assistant professor of plastic surgery at the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine.
Kinney, who is also past president of the Plastic Surgery Educational Foundation of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, says:" It's become common practice for plastic surgeons to use the patient's own fat in filling in defects such as around the eyes, in the nasolabial (nose to mouth) folds, and in the body, especially after liposuction that leads to irregular contours."
Yet, the main hitch is the fat absorption issue. According to Kinney, if this could be worked out, "It would not be surprising in the future -- with refinement in technique -- that this could be of benefit to women who need augmentation or reconstruction.
"But it may be many years, and it's far too early to know before large, well-controlled case-control clinical trials are done and peer-reviewed by other experts," he adds.