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Fat Transfer to the Breasts - Tissue Survival, Cancer Screening

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As the buzz in plastic surgery circles continues to build about breast augmentation through fat transfer, it may be ever more tempting to consider the procedure. That is, if you feel Mother Nature shorted you in the breast department.

(If you haven’t hard much of the discussion yet, you may want to browse an article from November at http://www.empowher.com/news/herarticle/2009/11/05/breast-augmentation-fat-transfer for some basic information on this topic.)

The American Society of Plastic Surgeons reversed itself late last year and declared fat transfer to be a viable means of breast enlargement, re-opening the doors to the attractive notion of enhancing your figure with your own tissue. However, it will be a while before thousands of these procedures have been done and the patient results have been tracked over a period of years. Breast augmentation via fat transfer is still far from mainstream.

Indeed, controversy still rages in medical circles about the procedure. One of the major concerns about fat transfer is long-term survival of the transplanted cells. When fat cells die, they can result in lumps, scarring and cysts—thickened tissue that can be hard to differentiate from cancer.

In an article in the San Jose Mercury News a week ago, Dr. Stephen F. Sener, a surgery professor at USC and a former president of the American Cancer Society, commented that he had seen enough post-mastectomy fat transfer patients to conclude that fat necrosis [death] is “a real problem.” Dr. Sener explained that, “It can result in a ‘palpable mass’ that needs to be biopsied to establish malignancy or infection.”

If fat transfer for breast augmentation is ever to be as popular as breast surgery with implants, then, it seems that conquering the necrosis problem is key. Not only will patients want to avoid lumps that may be viewed as potential tumors, women will not want to see their newly-enhanced breasts to shrink over time as the fat dies.

Dr. Roger Khouri, a plastic and reconstructive surgeon who manages the Miami Breast Center, is one of the few physicians who have performed many breast augmentations via fat transfer.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.