Post-Mastectomy Fat Grafting: 4 Pros and 4 Cons

5 Cons of Fat Grafting

1. Certain people may not be eligible.

If you suffer not just from cancer but also from certain comorbid disorders, you may have issues with this procedure not working properly. If you smoke, you may also be at risk for something going wrong.

2. There are still some unknowns.

Because the procedure hasn’t been in existence for very long, doctors still don’t know everything there is to know about the safety of the procedure and the long-term results. While most patients seem to be happy with their results in the short-term and seem relatively healthy, experts worry that this may change down the road. No large long-term studies have been done on this technique. Most of the research that has been conducted has a follow-up time of fewer than four years.

Photo: Adobe Stock/Ariwasabi
Photo: Adobe Stock/Ariwasabi

3. Fat is easy to mold.

That’s right; the same point that we put on the pros list is also on the cons list. Fat’s malleability may make it the perfect tool for reshaping a breast, but that means it also has the potential to lose its shape over time, due either to gravity or some other type of pressure. If you’re a stomach sleeper, for example, the pressure of your body weight on your breasts could cause them to become flatter than you’d like them to be. It’s really too soon to tell how big of an issue this will be.

4. You may experience necrosis or absorption.

If the fat inserted during your grafting procedure doesn’t adhere properly to the existing tissue, it may not have the nutrients it needs to survive, leading to fat cell death, also called necrosis. Symptoms of this issue include pain and bleeding, darkening of the skin, numbness, fever, and sores that ooze an odorous discharge. Even if the fat cells don’t die, some of the fat could be absorbed into the existing tissue, leaving you with much less breast than before. Some doctors add more fat than you think you need and ask their patients to wear external expanders for several weeks to prevent these two issues from occurring.

Photo: Adobe Stock/ryanking999
Photo: Adobe Stock/ryanking999

If you’re considering having a fat grafting procedure done, talk to your doctor about the pros and cons, as well as what precautions he or she takes to prevent potential issues. This is your body and your life, and you deserve to have all the information available before you make your big decision about what type (if any) breast reconstruction you will have.

Elizabeth Nelson

Elizabeth Nelson is a wordsmith, an alumna of Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, a four-leaf-clover finder, and a grammar connoisseur. She has lived in west Michigan since age four but loves to travel to new (and old) places. In her free time, she. . . wait, what’s free time?

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