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Fat Grafting and Breast Reconstruction with Implant: Another Option for Irradiated Breast Cancer Patients

Salgarello, Marzia M.D.; Visconti, Giuseppe M.D.; Barone-Adesi, Liliana M.D.

Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery: February 2012 - Volume 129 - Issue 2 - p 317–329
doi: 10.1097/PRS.0b013e31822b6619
Breast: Original Articles
Press Release

Background: 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.

Methods: 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.

Results: 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.

Conclusions: 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.


Rome, Italy

From the Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Catholic University of “Sacro Cuore,” University Hospital “A. Gemelli.”

Received for publication December 26, 2010; accepted March 31, 2011.

Presented at the 22nd Annual EURAPS Meeting, in Mykonos, Greece, June 2 to 4, 2011.

Disclosure: The authors have no financial interest to declare in relation to the content of this article. No outside funding was received.

Marzia Salgarello, M.D.; Via Massimi 101, 00136, Rome, Italy,

©2012American Society of Plastic Surgeons