Lipofilling

Lipofilling or lipomodelling is relatively new to Australia but it has been used in Europe and the USA as an adjunct to breast cancer surgery for the last 15 years. Lipomodelling uses the patient's own fat cells to replace volume or correct contour defects after breast reconstruction, or to fill defects in the breast following breast-conserving surgery. It can be used on its own or as an adjunct to other reconstruction techniques.

How it is done

Under general anaesthesia, fat is harvested by aspiration with a syringe and cannula through tiny incisions, commonly from the abdomen, outer thigh and/or flank. The fat is usually washed and centrifuged or separated before being injected into the breast. A degree of fat reabsorption is common in the first 6 months. It may be necessary to repeat the procedure several times to achieve the desired effect (typically 2 - 4 sessions).

What to expect post surgery

*You will have bruising on the donor site (abdomen) and the area will be sore.

*You may have a binder on post operatively for 24 hours.

*You may have some swelling on both the donor and recipient sites post surgery

Potential complications

Infection (< 1%), oil cysts(5%), haematoma, calcification, donor and breast site deformity, scar, complete reabsorption of fat, fat necrosis (3%), intraoperative pneumothorax (rare).

Cost

There is currently no item number available for this procedure. There is a steering committee which has applied for item number status but it is unclear how long this process will take or if it will successful. The procedure therefore has no rebate at the moment and must be paid in full by the patient.

Safety

The case series of 734 lipomodelling procedures for breast reconstruction reported that 10 years of oncological follow-up did not reveal any increased risk of local recurrence after mastectomy or after conservative treatment .

Uses

Hiding or improving of the appearance of rippling , smoothing contour defects after surgery, Volume replacement , improvement of skin quality post radiotherapy