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Fat Injections: Safe for Breast Reconstruction After Cancer?

Study Suggests Technique Known as 'Lipofilling' Has Low Complication Rate

How Lipofilling Works continued...

In the earlier study, Petit tracked 321 women with breast cancer who had surgery between 1997 and 2008. Later, they had lipofilling. He compared those women with two comparison patients each.

After a median follow-up of more than four and a half years, he found that eight in the lipofilling group had a local cancer found and 19 did in the comparison group. That makes the rates comparable, he says.

When he looked just at noninvasive cancer that starts in the breast, he found three cases in the fat-injection group and none in the comparison patients. However, he says, this could be due to some study biases in picking the comparison group.

More Research Needed

The results of the new research "doesn’t show there is a problem yet, but we still need to keep looking [in breast cancer patients]," says Sydney Coleman, MD, a Manhattan plastic surgeon and assistant clinical professor of surgery at New York University Medical Center. He is a pioneer in the technique.

The procedure itself, he says, has very few complications. Women who get the injections for augmentation can typically get a one-cup increase in size, he says.

"We need more studies to really determine the oncological risk," he tells WebMD. "We have so little data on cancer recurrence."

He reviewed the study but was not involved in it. Coleman reports royalties from the Coleman cannula, a device used in the procedure. He is an advisor to Mentor, which makes it.

Kamran Khoobehi, MD, professor of surgery at Louisiana State University in New Orleans, often performs the technique. The study findings should be reassuring, he says, although he agrees more study is needed.

"This study confirms there is no increased risk of local recurrence or systemic recurrence [in women who get the injections vs. those who don't]," he tells WebMD.

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