Oncologic Safety of Autologous Fat Grafting in Breast Reconstruction

Clin Breast Cancer. 2021 Aug;21(4):271-277. doi: 10.1016/j.clbc.2021.01.020. Epub 2021 Feb 4.


Autologous fat grafting is a useful adjunct to breast reconstruction to address contour changes, volume loss, and deformity. More recent benefits observed include mitigation of pain and inflammation. Although there is no clinical evidence to suggest an increased risk in recurrence or new cancer development in fat grafting for breast reconstruction, the oncologic safety of grafting has come into question. Adipose tissue grafts contain progenitor cells and immunomodulatory cytokines, which may induce vasculogenesis or tumor progression or recurrence at the site. Although these are all theoretical concerns, there is a discrepancy between basic science research and clinical outcomes studies. In this review, the authors summarize available literature regarding three important controversies in fat grafting for oncologic breast reconstruction: the interaction of graft component cells, such as adipose-derived stem cells, with cancer cells; the concern of fat grafting interference with breast cancer screening and detection; and clinical evidence regarding the oncologic safety of fat grafting following breast cancer treatment.

Keywords: Autologous fat grafting; Breast cancer reconstruction; Oncologic safety; Patient safety.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / transplantation*
  • Breast Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mammaplasty / adverse effects*
  • Postoperative Complications / epidemiology*
  • Transplantation, Autologous