Determining the Oncologic Safety of Autologous Fat Grafting as a Reconstructive Modality: An Institutional Review of Breast Cancer Recurrence Rates and Surgical Outcomes

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The increasing use of autologous fat grafting in breast cancer patients has raised concerns regarding its oncologic safety. This study evaluated patient outcomes and tumor recurrence following mastectomy reconstruction and autologous fat grafting.


Retrospective chart review identified patients who underwent mastectomy followed by breast reconstruction from 2010 to 2015. Eight hundred twenty-nine breasts met inclusion criteria: 248 (30.0 percent) underwent autologous fat grafting, whereas 581 (70.0 percent) breasts did not. Patient demographics, cancer characteristics, oncologic treatment, surgical treatment, surgical complications, local recurrence, and distant metastases were analyzed.


Autologous fat grafting patients and control patients were of similar body mass index, smoking status, and BRCA status. Patients who underwent fat grafting were significantly younger than control patients and were less likely to have diabetes, hypertension, or hyperlipidemia. The two groups represented similar distributions of BRCA status, Oncotype scores, and hormone receptor status. Patients underwent one to four grafting procedures: one procedure in 83.1 percent, two procedures in 13.7 percent, three in 2.8 percent, and four in 0.4 percent. Mean follow-up time from initial surgery was 45.6 months in the fat grafting group and 38.8 months in controls. The overall complication rate following fat grafting was 9.4 percent. Among breasts undergoing surgery for therapeutic indications, there were similar rates of local recurrence (fat grafting group, 2.5 percent; controls, 1.9 percent; p = 0.747). Interestingly, mean time to recurrence was significantly longer in the fat grafting group (52.3 months versus 22.8 months from initial surgery; p = 0.016).


Autologous fat grafting is a powerful tool in breast reconstruction. This large, single-institution study provides valuable evidence-based support for its oncologic safety.


Therapeutic, III.

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