Breast Fat Grafting Safety

Breast Fat Grafting in Sydney – Safety

Is breast fat grafting in Sydney safe?

Besides “Does it work?”, the second question (or batch of questions) that needs to be answered is “Is it safe?”. Fat grafting in areas away from the breast are considered safe, assuming correct patient assessment and surgical techniques are employed. Fat grafting around the breast raises additional questions due to the nature of the breast gland to undergo cancerous changes – remember that 1 in 9 women in Australia will develop a breast cancer in their lifetime. Breast augmentation with fat transfer is generally a procedure that is performed in younger women, so the long term safety of any procedure needs to be assured before a technique is considered mainstream.

Does breast fat grafting cause cancer?

The remaining unanswered question in the literature is whether grafted fat cells, or the stem cells, could initiate a breast cancer. To Dr Gavin Sandercoe’s knowledge there are no good long term studies that answer this question adequately yet. The only way this question will be answered will be with a series of several hundred women that are followed for at least a decade after having cosmetic fat grafting of the breast.

The main concern that the surgical and scientific community have is whether the grafted fat & stem cells send out enough growth factors that could stimulate the nearby breast gland in a bad way – after all, cancer is just cells that are growing without controls. In my opinion, this is where stem cell enriched grafting comes completely unstuck. If normal cells could cause a new breast cancer, then stem cells with their increased ability to make growth factors must be at an even higher risk.

As far as Dr Sandercoe is aware, there are several conflicting pieces of evidence:-

  1. Fat grafting into an area of breast that has had breast cancer does not cause an increase in local recurrence rates out to 5 years after fat transfer
  2. ADSCs (Adipose Derived Stem Cells) or fat stem cells can change genes that are expressed in breast cells, at least in a test tube

Stem cell enriched grafting may have great results in other areas of the body, although the evidence for that is still currently patchy. Fat transfer to most areas of the body has great results without anciliary techniques such as stem cell enrichment. Considering that the breast gland does have a malignancy during the life of 1 in 9 women, the use of stem cells in and nearby to this gland should be considered dangerous until proven otherwise. The safety of the technique may eventually be proven, but at this stage the data is still not adequate.

Note that the advocates of such techniques and the producing companies state that “there is no evidence that it does cause cancer”. This is quite different to saying that “there is enough evidence that it does not cause cancer”. Another analogy is that the cigarette companies for a long time stated that there was no evidence that smoking caused harm to health – we know how that ended up once the evidence was collected. It would be a tragedy to find out that breast fat grafting in Sydney caused an increased risk of breast cancer only after implementing it widely.

Does Dr Sandercoe offer breast fat grafting in Sydney?

YES!! As of 24th May 2016, Dr Gavin Sandercoe was the first Plastic Surgeon in Sydney to be granted unrestricted coverage for fat transfer to the breast by his medico-legal insurance company. This is a reflection of the training that Dr Gavin Sandercoe has undergone, and his extensive experience in fat transfer to the breast for breast reconstruction.

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