Adipose tissue defects leading to severe functional (disability) and morphologic (disfigurement) morbidity are often treated in plastic surgery with fat grafting, which can be limited by resorption, necrosis, and cyst formation. This study aimed to assess whether adipose scaffolds could provide an environment for in situ autologous fat grafting, and to study whether adipose cell migration and proliferation (adipogenesis) within scaffolds could be enhanced by preliminarily increasing the vascularity (preconditioning) of the surrounding tissue receiving the scaffolds.
Using an established rodent model of subcutaneous tissue/scaffold grafting, the authors tested the potential of a human-derived, shelf-ready, injectable, decellularized allograft adipose matrix to reconstruct soft-tissue defects when used in combination with noninvasive mechanical (suction-induced) skin preconditioning.
Combined use of the allograft adipose matrix and noninvasive skin preconditioning significantly improved long-term volume retention (50 to 80 percent higher at a 12-week follow-up) and histologic quality of reconstructed tissues compared with standard of care (autologous adipose grafts). The components of the allograft adipose matrix supported adipogenesis and angiogenesis. Combining the allograft adipose matrix with living adipose grafts mitigated negative outcomes (lower long-term volume retention, higher presence of cystic-like areas).
This study suggests that the synergistic use of the allograft adipose matrix and noninvasive tissue preconditioning provides an effective solution for improving fat grafting. These strategies can easily be tested in clinical trials and could establish the basis for a novel therapeutic paradigm in reconstructive surgery.