In postmastectomy radiated patients, autologous tissue reconstruction is preferred over implant reconstruction, because the latter is associated with a higher rate of postoperative complications. Autologous tissue reconstruction, however, is not always feasible and is sometimes refused by the patient. A challenge also arises in breast-conserving surgery patients seeking breast augmentation with an implant. In this article, the authors present a further reconstructive option for irradiated breast cancer patients consisting of fat grafting followed by implant placement.
The authors retrospectively reviewed 16 cases of irradiated breasts treated with fat grafting and subsequent alloplastic reconstruction/breast augmentation. The evaluation methods were clinical and photography-based assessments. The BREAST-Q was used to quantify patient satisfaction.
Sixteen patients, with a pretreatment Late Effects on Normal Tissues–Subjective, Objective, Management, Analytic (LENT-SOMA) score of 1 or 2, underwent two to three fat grafts to achieve a LENT-SOMA score of 0. The placement of the breast implant had been performed in a separate stage at least 3 months after the last grafting session. The average follow-up was 15 months. Reconstructive outcomes were graded from excellent to good in 93.7 percent of patients. Patient satisfaction was marked as high to very high. There were no short-term complications. A Baker grade 1 capsule contracture was found in all patients.
The authors' experience shows that breast fat grafting followed by implant placement may represent a feasible reconstructive option in highly selected patients with irradiated breasts. Fat grafting seems to reduce radiation-induced complications in implants. Larger studies with a longer follow-up are needed.
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