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Controversial Fat Injections to Improve Breast Reconstruction. Is Beauty Worth the Risks?

womanbraALY_450x413wOne’s breast shape may not always be as perfect as those seen in the Victoria Secret catalogue; however, when you’re paying $10,000.00 for them, they better come pretty darn close. Many doctors are toying with the controversial issue of using fat injections to fix unexpected and uncontrollable errors in breast augmentation such as dimpling, wrinkles, or unsymmetrical contouring. Proponents claim fat injections make breasts softer, smoother, and more natural looking. Another appealing aspect of fat injections is that doctors use the patients’ own fat deposits found in commonly unflattering areas like the thighs and stomach. “Patients were uniformly satisfied with the results, as well as the side benefit of abdominal ‘liposuction’,” said Gregory R. Scott, MD, a plastic surgeon with Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, San Diego, California.

The allure of this procedure is dramatically curtailed when one thinks about the risks such as infection, and the amount of healing time needed. The American Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons (ASPRS) strongly condemns the use of fat injections for breast enlargement, warning that the procedure may hamper the detection of early breast cancer. This is because the fat can calcify and interfere with mammogram results, causing it to be mistaken as cancerous tissue. Also, benign palpable cysts can form in the field of the fat transfer, potentially causing more shape deformity. A 1998 Journal of Japan Society of Aesthetic Surgery article on lipo-injection induced tumor (LIT), reported that 24 cases of LIT were diagnosed between April, 1996 and April, 1998. It is also uncertain how much fat is required to adequately reshape the breast or how much of that fat will be absorbed by the body. The ASPRS cautions that fat injections may offer only temporary benefits as the fat can potentially die, causing scar tissue in the area of injection. It is estimated 70% of the fat is absorbed by the body after six months; thus, those who decide to have the procedure should be aware that injections must be repeated regularly to maintain the desired result. Fat is absorbed if it does not develop its own blood supply; however, if the fat does develop a blood supply, it becomes a living tissue and can grow if a patient gains weight or shrink if she loses weight. In a study conducted with 42 patients, the amount of fat transferred to the breast ranged from 30 to 180mL, suggesting this procedure may not even be possible for patients without adequate available fat.

We are faced with the issue of artificial enhancements. Is the quest for beauty really worth the risk? In 2007, alone, there were nearly 348,000 breast augmentation procedures and more than 57,000 breast reconstructions performed. These high numbers prove that there is no breast gain without pain, which is why so many women are buying into artificial enhancements. Thus, our society’s relentless search for beauty perfection ensures that breast augmentation procedures as well as fat injection techniques will only get better with time and will likely stay in demand.

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