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.