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The Use of Autologous Fat Grafting for Treatment of Scar Tissue and Scar-Related Conditions

A Systematic Review

Negenborn, Vera L. M.D.; Groen, Jan-Willem M.D.; Smit, Jan Maerten M.D., B.Sc.; Niessen, Frank B. M.D., Ph.D.; Mullender, Margriet G. M.Sc., Ph.D.

Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery: January 2016 - Volume 137 - Issue 1 - p 31e–43e
doi: 10.1097/PRS.0000000000001850
Cosmetic: Original Articles

Background: Scar tissue can cause cosmetic impairments, functional limitations, pain, and itch. It may also cause emotional, social, and behavioral problems, especially when it is located in exposed areas. To date, no gold standard exists for the treatment of scar tissue. Autologous fat grafting has been introduced as a promising treatment option for scar tissue-related symptoms. However, the scientific evidence for its effectiveness remains unclear. This systematic review aims to evaluate the available evidence regarding the effectiveness of autologous fat grafting for the treatment of scar tissue and scar-related conditions.

Methods: A systematic literature review was performed using MEDLINE, Cochrane Library, EMBASE, and Web of Science. No language restrictions were imposed.

Results: Twenty-six clinical articles were included, reporting on 905 patients in total. Meta-analysis was not performed because of the heterogeneous methodology demonstrated among the articles. Main outcome measures were scar appearance and skin characteristics, restoration of volume and/or (three-dimensional) contour, itch, and pain. All publications report a beneficial effect of autologous fat grafting on scar tissue. There is statistical significant improvement of the scar appearance, skin characteristics, and pain. Itch and restoration of volume and three-dimensional contour also improved.

Conclusions: Autologous fat grafting is used to improve a variety of symptoms related to scar tissue. This systematic review suggests that autologous fat grafting provides beneficial effects with limited side effects. However, the level of evidence and methodological quality are quite low. Future randomized controlled trials with a methodologically strong design are necessary to confirm the effects of autologous fat grafting on scar tissue and scar-related conditions.

Amsterdam, The Netherlands

From the Department of Plastic, Reconstructive, and Hand Surgery and the EMGO+ Institute for Health and Care Research, VU University Medical Center.

Received for publication March 31, 2015; accepted June 29, 2015.

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

Margriet G. Mullender, M.Sc., Ph.D., Department of Plastic, Reconstructive, and Hand Surgery, VU University Medical Center Amsterdam, De Boelelaan 1117, 1081 HV Amsterdam, The Netherlands,

©2016American Society of Plastic Surgeons