David B. Reath, MD
Knoxville, TN (865) 450-9253

The downside of fat injections to the breast: breast cancer

Breast Cancer Awareness
Okay, forgive me if I am getting carried away with this, but there are some real concerns here, and you need to know about them.  Yesterday I was attending a course on the “hot topics” in plastic surgery at the ASAPS (American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons) meeting, during which I heard some information on this.  Some people have started to do breast enlargements with fat injection.  Sounds good, doesn’t it?  Suck the fat out of your thighs and put it in your breast.  And, although this is a relatively new technique, some people are getting  very nice results with this.

However, there is experimental data showing that if you mix fat cells with breast cancer cells and inject them into an experimental animal, the cancer cells take off and grow at a faster rate than if they were injected alone.  It seems that the fat cells stimulate, or turn on the cancer cells.  As many of us know, what happens in the lab doesn’t always happen in real medicine, but many times it does.  This means that injecting fat into the breast could increase the risk of breast cancer.  So there is a need for caution here.  And, until we have more data on this, I don’t believe we should be doing it (and I don’t think anyone is Knoxville is).

But the other side of this argument is that we have something that works very well for breast enlargement: breast implants, silicone or saline.  Also, fat injection for breast enlargement is more expensive, and may require multiple operations since you can only inject a certain amount at a time.  And while it’s always great to be “cutting edge” so to speak, using a technique that is time tested and successful is probably the best choice.

So which would you rather have?

David B.

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