You may have read or heard recently about the use of adult stem cells for breast augmentation. This is a new technique undergoing clinical trials in the U.S., although it has been undergoing testing for some time in Great Britain and Japan. In this procedure, fat cells are taken by liposuction from other areas of the patient’s body, such as the hips, thighs and stomach, processed with a special machine to extract regenerative cells and then inserted into the breasts as a graft. The fat volume retention is estimated to be 80% or more. Results are not immediate; it takes several months to see the final result. It is predicted that most patients can expect an increase of about one cup size. It was reported that in Japan, women paid $25,000 for this procedure. One clear disadvantage to this procedure is that the breasts will not be firm, if they were soft or sagging before the procedure, they will remain that way.
It will be a number of years before this procedure is FDA-approve in the U.S. Extensive clinical trials need to be performed, especially to overcome safety concerns. We are not sure how the fat grafts might affect the results of mammograms. Even more concerning, we do not yet know if these cells can somehow go awry and become tumor cells. We currently participate with Indiana University in stem cell research by providing fat specimens from patients that have specifically consented for their fat to be removed in surgery to be used to further this area of investigation. No tissues are submitted for this purpose without the patient’s written consent. This is a very exciting area of research and promises to be helpful in several areas of medicine. – Dr. Jan Turkle