Fat Grafting for Breast Reconstruction: Any Impact on Cancer Relapse?

Albert B. Lowenfels, MD


April 18, 2019

After surgery for breast cancer, is autologous fat transfer a safe method for breast reconstruction? In a study from the Netherlands, published in JAMA Surgery,[1] the authors compared the oncologic outcome in 287 patients with autologous fat transfer with that of 300 patients in a control group who received conventional breast reconstruction.

After 5 years of follow-up, there were eight locoregional recurrences in the fat transfer group compared with 11 in the control group (P = .33). Both breast cancer specific mortality and overall mortality was lower in the patients undergoing fat transfer (P = .02 and P < .001, respectively).

Autologous Fat Transfer: A Safe Breast Reconstruction Option?

Other methods for breast reconstruction after surgery for breast cancer include implants and tissue flap plastic reconstruction. Autologous fat transfer has been less widely performed because of concerns that this procedure might increase the oncologic failure rate.

This report provides reassuring information about cancer-specific and overall mortality, with results extending over a 5-year follow-up period. The reduction in overall mortality is surprising, but has been observed in other studies.[2,3]

Could this be the result of some unidentified bias in selecting patients for autologous fat transfer? In any event, autologous fat transfer seems to be another option to discuss with patients for breast reconstruction after surgical treatment for breast cancer.

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