Lipofilling – breast reconstruction – the patients quest for more information

Lipofilling (pronounced Ly-po-filling)

There isn’t a great deal of information out there on lipofilling really. There is a forum on breast cancer care (see sources of information), but other than that not a great deal. I did go to the website of the ‘innovator’ of the whole process and had to use Google translator to get anything I could understand as it was all in French – never got beyond the basics at school! However, it did not cover a great deal about the Lipofilling process. My surgeon in Hull had been over to visit his conferences etc and there was some information on the website giving some information of use (see Lipomodelling in Sources of Information).

A good description of Lipofilling (although very general and not specific to breast reconstruction) is on Dr Fadel’s site:-

By lipostructure or lipofilling, fat of the body, mostly from areas around the umbilicus (navel) or hips, is used to fill wrinkles and folds in the face or dents in other places of the body.
Because 40 to 60 % of fat will disappear during the first two months, more fat than needed for the correction itself is injected.
Haematocele or bruising frequently occurs after the lipostructure, but these will disappear after 1 to 2 weeks.
After one month, the fat is completely built in the surrounding tissue. Therefore body fat can be considered as a tissue transplant.
Lipofilling is also the most natural way to fill out or smooth away wrinkles and never leads to allergic reactions.
Lipofilling is ‘filling with own fat’
Lipofilling is another term for lipostructure.

A more detailed description of lipofilling is found at the University of Gent, Belgium and a whole website is dedicated to the practice. I’ll try and draw out the key points in an extremely brief summary here, but recommend that you visit their site for the fullest information.

They do show pictures of various defects that may be helped by lipofilling, including damaged a damaged limb reconstructed by skin grafts. So lipofilling is useful for other purposes than breast reconstruction.

On their website they state:

“The lipofilling procedure is a very attractive procedure because the patient’s own fat cells are used to address soft tissue defects. Because your own cells (autologous) are used in lipofillng, there is no foreign body reaction or inflammation. Other advantages of the lipofilling technique are: 1/ the easily accessible and readily available fat depots located under the skin (through liposuction), 2/ minimal morbidity or discomfort, 3/ lipofilling can easily be repeated and 4/ the targeted delivery of the fat cells through fine lipofilling canulas.”

Gent describes the lipofilling procedure thus:

Aspirated adipose tissue transplantation is commonly performed in three consecutive stages: 1/ harvesting of adipose tissue from a suitable donor site, 2/ purification of the aspirated fat tissue (lipoaspirate) to eliminate the acellular oily supernatant and excess solution by gentle centrifugation, and 3/ reinjection of the purified fat through a three-dimensional reimplantation technique.

The lipofilling can be performed either under local anesthesia or under general anesthesia. These options are discussed with your physician and depend on the surface of the area that needs to be lipofilled.

The lipofilling can also be repeated if necessary and this is usually performed three to six months after the first lipofilling procedure.

When the fat is injected, it needs to survive in the body – this page on the Gent site describes what the fat is going through – it’s very interesting and there are diagrams to help with the explanation.

Spire Hull and East Riding Hospital class autologous fat transfer as a new treatment for correction of defects of the breast. They do however state “Although the results of liposculpture tend to last longer than some temporary synthetic fillers, it is not a permanent treatment and the fat will gradually be reabsorbed into the body over time.”

I find that last item disappointing! There is still a lot of confusing information about, but more and more is becoming available. I still don’t know all the ins and outs of it all, but I keep reading around the subject on the internet.

I have my next surgery session planned in for July now, so I’ll see what else I can discover at my pre-med and subsequent hospital visit and update accordingly as I learn more.

Sources of information:

Spire Healthcare – Lipomodelling

Dr Fadel on LipoFilling

University of Gent – Lipofilling

Breast Cancer Care

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7 thoughts on “Lipofilling – breast reconstruction – the patients quest for more information

  1. Wish I’d read this before having my recent reconstruction op. The day before the op the surgeon said: “Can I take some fat from your thigh if I need to to help fill in any gaps.” I panicked and said no, not wanting any more bits of me hacked about than absolutely necessary then wondered whether it would have been less intrusive than I feared and would have produced a better result. Thanks for your blog – very useful info.

  2. Maybe if you ask your surgeon he will be able to retro gap-fill?
    It would be the same as the treatment I am having, I’m sure. Or there are other techniques that are similar I believe, though I know next to nothing about any other procedures.
    At the very least it’s worth asking, then you will know.
    And, if the answer is no now, it may well be yes at a later date. I speak from experience on that one. Five years after first treatment I was told no when I asked for a reconstruction (it would have been an implant then though). Ten years after first treatment the answer changed to yes (the treatment being lipofilling). I only asked twice, so a 50% success rate πŸ™‚
    Thank you for your feedback and kind comment. It is really good to hear that you find it useful.
    If there is anything else you think I could be writing about, let me know and if I think I can write something of use, I will
    You take care of yourself x

  3. Pingback: Five things to take with you when you go for lipofilling on your breast | Julie Short

  4. Louise

    Thank you for the information; it is very helpful. I am trying to decide how to fill in from a lumpectomy. I have deep pain from it but was told by a surgeon that this procedure may not make any difference concerning the pain – has this help you with pain? I also want to look better since I don’t like the large dimple where the lump was removed… Thanks

    1. I didn’t have any pain before the lypofilling, so I cannot help you with this Louise, sorry. I can confirm that my dimple issue was resolved. However, my breast is still smaller than my other intact breast – due to having insufficient fat to donate from my abdomen to my breast on the second operation. After that I decided I didn’t want to undergo any further surgery to improve the situation any further as I felt that the risks out-weighed the benefits. I do hope that you can get help with the pain issue though, that sounds so awful for you.

  5. Elaine Waters

    Hi Julie! Wish I’d found your blog sooner, but better late than never! Really useful info, and a great place for us “lipo’s” to share experiences.

    I had lipo filling 2 days ago to reduce effects of lumpectomy 7 years ago. It’s too early to know how successful the operation has been but I am in quite a lot of pain in the areas from where they took the fat – how long did it take for your pain and swelling to disappear?… Fortunately there’s minimal pain in the area that has been filled, but that area is also beginning to swell up now. I’m tightly strapped up in a surgical corset which has to be worn for 6 weeks – did you need to do this?…I’m having to re-think my wardrobe and almost tempted to buy some maternity trousers for comfort! Also, how long did you need to be off work, and how are you feeling now? Are you happy with the outcome a few months later…I have heard that sometimes the effect doesn’t last.

    Looking forward to your reply, and wishing you continued health and much happiness!
    Elaine x

    1. Hi Elaine,
      Glad to hear that you are not too uncomfortable in your reconstruction zone. I did have discomfort in the ‘extraction zone’ and I did actually take post-op photographs (obviously too private to post) which showed me looking like a plum in the aftermath of a road traffic accident! I had some quite nasty pains too, felt like metallic pains as I recall. It is difficult to describe them, but yes they did eventually pass. I think I mentioned it to my Breast Care nurse and was advised to see how it went and go back if they didn’t eventually go (which they did).
      I wore M&S magic pants for 6 weeks. The hospital didn’t provide any compression garments. If you read one of my earlier life blogs I think it is to prevent lumpiness. Remember all those tunnels that they extracted the fat from have to be held closed.
      I was off work for 2-weeks each time I went in. I only went in twice then ran out of fat! The body does re-absorb some of the fat, but about 1/3-2/3 stays. I think that depends on the individual.
      I can’t remember what I wore after the surgery, but I don’t tend to wear tight fitting clothes, so maybe that’s why.
      I did write quite a few posts about my experiences, you can read one of question based posts here: https://julieshort.wordpress.com/2011/07/08/fifteen-breast-lipomodelling-questions-answered/ it might help with some of your current questions and possibly future ones.
      I am happy with the results nearly 2 years later, mainly because I had a large cavity on the top of my breast and that has been plumped up to look more like a normal breast. So if I have a top which is a bit lower I don’t have a delve in my cleavage. I would have liked a more profound change in the size of my reconstructed breast and sometimes I feel a bit disappointed, but then I remember how it was before and I’m grateful for the improvement that I have received.
      There is still a definite difference in size between the two breasts, but having trained as a bra fitter I now know that every woman has different sized breasts (unless she has has cosmetic surgery).
      I don’t regret having it done, but I wouldn’t go back to have any further surgery done (well that’s how I feel about it now, anyway).
      I hope your results turn out well for you and that you heal well.
      Julie πŸ˜„

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