"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," said Gregory Scott, MD, ASPS Member Surgeon and study co-author.
For the study, the researchers looked at 21 patients who had 42 fat transfers for contour deformities or wrinkling. The injections were performed an average of 9.9 months following reconstruction and the fat was taken from the patients' abdomen or upper thighs.
The researchers found that fat injection to the breast for reconstruction is safe, improves breast shape, and corrects implant wrinkling.
The study will be presented at the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) Plastic Surgery 2008 conference, Oct. 31 - Nov. 5, in Chicago.
While fat injection in breast reconstruction is more accepted because there is no breast tissue left after mastectomy, cosmetic use of fat injections to the breast remains controversial.
At Plastic Surgery 2008, a panel will discuss and analyze the medical and legal risks, patient safety implications, as well as potential benefits of cosmetic fat injections to the breast.
Two reasons noted for the controversy: one, fat can "calcify" in the breast and obscure mammograms or possibly be mistaken for fibrous cancer growths.
Two, it is unknown how much fat is needed to adequately enlarge a breast, if and how much of the injected fat will be absorbed by the body, or how much time the procedure will take.
"Based on current reports these procedures are taking multiple hours in the operating room and yielding minimal enlargement, you really need to wonder how useful and safe that is for the patient," William P. Adams, Jr., member of the ASPS Emerging Trends Committee and panel presenter.
"Nevertheless, this is all still unknown. For that reason, we need to wait until the issue has been studied in a controlled, scientific environment," he added.