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Breast Fat Injection Doesn’t Cloud Mammogram

March 29, 2011
Written by: , Filed in: Breast Imaging
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Breast augmentation by means of lipomodeling—which uses fat transferred from hips, thighs, or other parts of the patient’s body—does not interfere with mammograms, according to a study in the March issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.

The technique, also known as lipofilling, is still somewhat experimental, especially when used for cosmetic rather than reconstructive surgery. Cosmetically, it is most often employed for “correcting” irregularities in breast shape or modestly increasing breast size.

Michaël Veber, MD, the study’s lead author, wrote that his research group prefers the term lipomodeling, from the Greek lipo, meaning “fat,” and the Latin modello, meaning “give shape.” “We consider this naming closer to what we do during this specific procedure,” he wrote. Dr. Veber is with the Léon Bérard Cancer Center in Lyon, France.

Dr. Veber wrote that his group had “encouraging results” with lipomodeling. But, he added:

The main concerns with the technique remained the alleged complexity of radiographic follow-up of the treated breasts.

It turns out, according to the study, that such concerns were unfounded.

The researchers first reviewed mammograms performed an average of 16 months after lipomodeling in 31 women. No abnormalities showed up in 17 cases. Some women had small calcifications or cysts, apparently as a result of the fat injections, or other abnormalities related to scarring. But none of the changes were considered likely to be mistaken for cancer during a mammogram screening.

The researchers also analyzed mammograms performed before and after lipomodeling in 20 women. They found “no statistically significant difference between prelipomodeling and postlipomodeling results.”

The researchers found that “breast density remains stable over time, with some limited areas of lower density.”

Dr. Veber did caution that “it appears crucial for radiologists to acquire specific knowledge of lipomodeling.” Overall, however, he concluded: “Our work demonstrates that lipomodeling does not seem to affect the radiographic follow-up of the patients.”

Related seminar: Pittsburgh Breast Imaging Seminar

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