Breast reconstruction after cancer is one of the most important surgeries to combine medical sensitivity and health with a cosmetic eye and aesthetic approach. As reconstructive surgeons are constantly looking for ways to develop their techniques, clinical studies may focus on the more scientific aspects of breast reconstruction. Now, there may be potential for stem cell use in natural looking breast reconstructive surgery.
Fat Grafting in Reconstructive Breast Surgery
Fat grafting is commonly used in reconstructive surgery to replenish lost volume. This procedure involves harvesting fat cells from other parts of the body and injecting them into the treatment area to become incorporated into the local fatty tissue. Fat grafting can be an excellent method of correcting irregular contours following a lumpectomy or can be used in combination with implants after a mastectomy.
However, fat grafting has its limitations. During any fat transfer, there are unpredictable rates of resorption of the transferred fat cells, meaning the cells failed to incorporate into the treatment area and were reabsorbed by the body instead. This can sometimes mean less than ideal results for reconstructive surgery and repeated sessions may be necessary.
Recent research suggests that including the use of stem cells in the fat grafting process can significantly reduce resorption rates. Reduced resorption rates during fat transfer could mean better breast reconstruction results and possibly even a future alternative to implant- or flap-based reconstruction.
Because stem cells can grow into any type of cell, they have the potential to be immensely useful in medical practices, including breast reconstruction. Yet, the research that has been conducted is inconclusive on the potential for stem cell use in fat grafting, and additional research will be necessary to fully understand the implications of the technique.