The fat grafting process includes the 4 phases of tissue harvesting, processing, recipient-site preparation, and reinjection. Among them, the preparation of the recipient site has never been exhaustively reviewed. We aim to provide a comprehensive overview of the methods to prepare the recipient site through external expansion with the resulting outcomes.Methods:
PubMed/Medline database was searched for studies on fat grafting recipient site preparation by applying the following algorithm: ((fat grafting) OR (lipofilling) OR (lipograft) AND (recipient site)). A priori criteria were used to review the resulting articles and identify those dealing with external expansion.Results:
Fourteen studies published from 2008 through 2016 met inclusion criteria (4 case reports, 6 retrospective, and 4 prospective studies), representing 1,274 treated patients. Two devices for preexpansion were used with different protocols: BRAVA system and Kiwi VAC-6000M with a PalmPump. The 13 studies that applied the BRAVA system reported large fat volume transplantation to the breast (average > 200 cc). The most common complications were localized edema (14.2%), temporary bruising, and superficial skin blisters (11.3%), while the most serious was pneumothorax (0.5%). The majority of the studies reported enhancement of fat graft survival, which ranged between 53% and 82% at 6 months to 1 year follow-up, and high satisfaction of patients and surgeon.Conclusions:
External expansion and fat grafting is a promising technique for breast reconstruction and augmentation. However, due to the overall low level of evidence of the available studies, further research is needed to validate the procedure.