Breast augmentation with stem cells uses both fatty cells and a small amount of mesenchymal stem cells to enhance the shape and size of the breasts. When a doctor performs breast augmentation with stem cells, the stem cell is used for replacement of volume and to create a soft and natural breast. The stem cells are harvested from fatty tissue using a gentler liposuction technique. Mesenchymal stem cells are an abundant and specialized type of stem cell that can further differentiate into fat cells and produce collagen allowing for a longer lasting and more natural looking result. The stem cells are taken from the patient’s own fatty tissue and are the only stem cells used for breast augmentation. This is because the volume of other stem cells within the bone marrow is too small and not applicable in breast augmentation.
The surgeon is transferring a very small number of stem cells within the fatty tissue but mainly using the fat tissue to add volume and to build the breast. The stem cells and the fat are all harvested as one component and then transferred into the breast.
Patients who desire a more natural look but do not want to have a foreign body such as an implant are great candidates for stem cell breast augmentation. They are patients who want a natural and soft breast using their own tissue. A patient who undergoes breast augmentation with stem cells does not have to worry about implant infection, capsular contracture, or implant rupture.
The main benefit of breast augmentation with stem cells is the fact that it looks natural with minimal complications and no implants involved.
One of the main limitations is that a patient cannot have a very large volume transfered at any given time. The doctor has to slowly build the breast with each treatment. The most frequently quoted number that is scientifically shown to have a good take is 250cc to 350cc at a time to each breast. That number is about a two cup increase of both breasts. If someone wants an 800cc augmentation, fat transfer is not an ideal option for them. It is for someone who wants a moderate increase of breast size.
The other limitation is that fat transfer can resorb. If a surgeon transfers 350cc, about half of it will reabsorb so a patient has to have multiple procedures.
Some of the fat and stem cells may not take and can cause a nodule or a lump. It may show up as a calcification on a mammogram and make the radiologist question whether it is an abnormal mass or just calcification. Patients have to tell the radiologist ahead of time that they have had this procedure so the radiologist can properly discern the difference between a calcification due to fat and one that is cancerous . This calcification is normally seen in fat necrosis and it is not a cancerous lesion.
Strong communication between the patient and doctor is key to having a good result. The ideal breast size for the procedure needs to be decided on in advance by the doctor and the patient. For example, a doctor cannot build a breast of 800cc using breast augmentation with stem cells because it is too much volume weight in one breast and blood supply could go into the fat. Doctors normally recommend only increasing by one or two cups.
The short term risks include infections, fat necrosis, nodules, and hardness. There is also the chance for an unaesthetic result and an undesirable shape because the doctor is molding the breast with fat transfer as opposed to an implant that is already round in shape.
The long term risk would be fat necrosis leading to calcification. It will have an abnormal mammogram calcification that may require a biopsy in the future. It does not necessarily cause cancer but it may appear abnormal and the radiologist may recommend a biopsy. If patients see something a few months after having the procedure, they need to go to a radiologist to make sure it is not a cancer issue.
The recovery process is pretty quick for breast augmentation with stem cells. A patient should be able to go back to work within two to three days after surgery. There will be pain and soreness for about a week.
The final results will occur about three months after the procedure. Even though some of the fat transfer will resorb as time passes, some of the volume will take on a permanent basis. Patients who want a touch-up procedure, or want to increase the volume, can do so about every six months.
Breast augmentation with stem cells is a technically challenging procedure so the surgeon needs to know how to layer the fat and the stem cells in order to create a beautiful breast. Patients should schedule a consultation with a surgeon to set result expectations in advance and to make sure they are an ideal candidate for the procedure.
Written by Cosmetic Town Editorial Team - MA
Based on an exclusive interview with Mytien Goldberg, MD in Torrance, CA