There’s a new way to recycle when it comes to plastic surgery. Rather than using saline or silicone for breast implants – which may result in a short shelf life, slippage, and leaks – plastic surgeons from Israel, Europe, and Japan are taking fat and stem cells from thighs and hips to achieve bigger and shapelier breasts in their patients. Or so they say.
The stem cells from fat tissue have the ability to grow new fat cells and blood vessels, thereby producing long-lasting tissue that can be used for breast reconstruction or augmentation. The procedure involves the harvesting of adult stem cells, not embryonic cells.
Not yet legal in the United States, studies could begin in 3-5 years.
Results Of Study On Stem Cell Breast Augmentation
There has been a study in Japan involving 40 Japanese women who paid to have their stem cells harvested and used to augment their breasts. After a period of 3.5 years, even though their breasts experienced a small shrinkage during the months post-surgery, their breast sizes were still 2-3 cup sizes bigger than before their stem cell breast augmentation.
According to one doctor, J. Peter Rubin, MD, there are safety concerns. These include the possibility of the stem cells becoming tumor cells or influencing cancer cells left behind in breast cancer patients.
In addition, the injection of fat into the breast can possibly obscure small cancers, which mammograms would normally detect. Doctors don’t know yet.
Dr. Kotaro Yoshimura, the plastic surgeon from the University of Tokyo who lead the above study, recognized some of the subjects did develop some calcification and small cysts in their breasts, although he did not believe these would hinder cancer detection.
The idea of having a natural breast augmentation instead of artificial implants is attractive. But at the moment, more research needs to be done to rule out very significant safety concerns, in particular, the possibility of stem cells inducing the growth or regrowth of cancer cells in the breast.
Aside from the safety issues, the procedure itself is very expensive. At about $25,000 , it’s an inaccessible option for many women.