In the quest for a more aesthetic looking breast, surgeons are discovering that fat transfer to the breast can offer much more…
Five years ago, Barbara Greco-Potash was diagnosed with breast cancer and had a bi-lateral mastectomy. “I couldn’t believe it because I always took good care of myself; I was a runner, I ate healthy, I wasn’t overweight, I couldn’t believe this had happened.”
This is a common response from many women when they first learn of their breast cancer prognosis. The American Cancer Society estimates there will be more than 200,000 new breast cancer diagnoses in 2013. Almost half of those, around 90,000, will decide to go through some sort of breast reconstruction process.
After Barbara’s mastectomy, she heard about a relatively new procedure that involves fat grafting to the breast and decided to give it a try under the care of Dr. Louis P. Bucky, a board certified plastic surgeon from Philadelphia.
Breast Tissue Expansion
Before fat grafting can take place, the breast tissue has to be expanded. Dr. Bucky uses the BRAVA technique to help expand the external tissue of the breast. The system works by applying sustained tension on your breasts for up to several months. Periodically, patients are instructed to pump the expander which helps to slowly stretch the tissue. Once the breast tissue is where it needs to be, a patient is ready for the fat grafting to take place. “BRAVA has allowed large volume fat grafting to be done reliably,” says Bucky.
When the fat grafting took place, Barbara felt she had a whole new breast. “I felt like a woman again. I didn’t feel mutilated and I just couldn’t believe you could make something out of nothing.”
The Benefits of FAT
“If we think of reconstructive breast surgery as allowing patients to become more whole, then what’s more natural than taking your own fat and replacing what’s gone in the breast? Not only are we making the breast look better, but patients feel better after large volume fat grafting with BRAVA,” says Bucky.
This was the case with Lisa Holloway, a registered nurse with Dr. Bucky’s practice and a breast cancer survivor. Holloway went through the BRAVA and fat grafting procedure several years ago. She was like many women who suffered with pain after breast reconstruction and was relieved to find her pain went away immediately after fat grafting surgery. Now, Holloway helps other patients go through the same process. “The benefit of Brava other than the aesthetics is these ladies have said their pain went away or their pain was significantly improved; it made their quality of life significantly better.”
Patient’s Report Their Pain Went Away
“I think it’s one of the greatest benefits”, says Bucky. “If I look at the last 60 patients that reported discomfort after breast reconstruction and later had large volume fat grafting to the breast, 95 plus percent of those patients are relieved. Most patients can tell the next day to three days afterward that they have a better range of motion and the chronic low level of discomfort is gone.”
Bucky feels large volume fat grafting is the next big step towards successful breast reconstruction and with less donor site problems. “The added benefits and wonders of fat really make it special. However it’s still in its early stages and we need to go carefully and continue to look at our patients and results in a thoughtful way.” states Bucky.