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Fat injection reconstruction combo shows promise

Article-Fat injection reconstruction combo shows promise

Rome — A new technique involving injections of fat followed by implant placement may prove a viable alternative for breast cancer patients who have undergone radiation therapy.

According to an American Society of Plastic Surgeons news release, women who have undergone radiation therapy are usually not considered for reconstruction involving implants due to the higher risk of complications. A team of surgeons led by Marzia Salgarello, M.D., of University Hospital “A. Gemelli” in Rome, investigated the use of fat grafting to achieve better results with implant-based breast reconstruction after cancer surgery and radiation therapy.

Using the new technique, the surgeon uses liposuction to transfer fat from one part of the body and injects it into the radiation-treated area to create a bed of healthy tissue in the chest wall or remaining breast to receive the implant. Investigators used the combination technique over a three-year period with 16 patients who underwent breast cancer surgery followed by radiation therapy. Eleven of the patients had a mastectomy and five a lumpectomy or other types of breast-conserving surgery. Reconstruction began at least three to six months after the completion of radiation therapy. All patients received two or three fat grafts. The final reconstruction, including implant placement, was performed only when the area was free of signs of radiation toxicity.

Results showed that the final appearance of the reconstructed breasts was rated excellent to good in 94 percent of patients. Patient satisfaction was rated high to very high. No complications were reported at an average follow-up of 15 months. All patients had good healing of the tissues surrounding the implant.

“Fat grafting seems to reduce the radiation-induced complications in implants,” the authors wrote. “However, larger studies with a longer follow-up are required to confirm our findings.”

The study appears in the February issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.

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