Applicability and safety of autologous fat for reconstruction of the breast

Br J Surg. 2012 Jun;99(6):768-80. doi: 10.1002/bjs.8722. Epub 2012 Apr 4.


Background: Autologous fat grafting to the breast for cosmetic and reconstructive purposes is still controversial with respect to its safety and efficacy. The objective of this study was to conduct a systematic review of the clinical applicability and safety of the technique.

Methods: An online search of the Cochrane Library, MEDLINE, Embase and SciELO was conducted from July 1986 to June 2011. Studies included in the review were original articles of autologous liposuctioned fat grafting to the female breast, with description of clinical complications and/or radiographic changes and/or local breast cancer recurrence.

Results: This review included 60 articles with 4601 patients. Thirty studies used fat grafting for augmentation and 41 for reconstructive procedures. The incidence of clinical complications, identified in 21 studies, was 3·9 per cent (117 of 3015); the majority were induration and/or palpable nodularity. Radiographic abnormalities occurred in 332 (13·0 per cent) of 2560 women (17 studies); more than half were consistent with cysts. Local recurrence of breast cancer (14 of 616, 2·3 per cent) was evaluated in three studies, of which only one was prospective.

Conclusion: There is broad clinical applicability of autologous fat grafting for breast reconstruction. Complications were few and there was no evidence of interference with follow-up after treatment for breast cancer. Oncological safety remains unclear.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / transplantation*
  • Breast Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mammaplasty / methods*
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / etiology
  • Patient Safety
  • Postoperative Complications / diagnostic imaging
  • Postoperative Complications / etiology
  • Radiography
  • Risk Factors
  • Transplantation, Autologous / methods