Background: Free flap breast reconstruction is an option widely sought in postmastectomy breast reconstruction. However, the volume of autologous tissue from the patient is often not sufficient for symmetrical reconstruction. In these cases, flaps can be used in combination with implants or autologous fat injections to augment volume and achieve shape, symmetry, and contour.
Methods: A retrospective chart review was performed on patients who underwent postmastectomy free flap reconstruction with secondary augmentation using autologous fat grafting or implant from 2008 to 2011.
Level of Evidence: Level IV, therapeutic study.
Results: Twenty-four patients (39 breasts) received further augmentation of autologous tissue reconstruction during this period. Sixteen patients (26 breasts) had fat graft augmentation only, four patients (eight breasts) had implant augmentation only, and three patients (five breasts) had both procedures. Among patients who had fat grafting, operative intervention was required twice for fat necrosis. Contrastingly, of patients who received implants, one patient required operative intervention for implant malpositioning. These differences were not significant (P = 0.57). The group with both fat grafting and implant augmentation had significantly higher aesthetic scores regarding overall appearance, contour, and volume, but not projection, than the group with fat grafting only and the group with implant only.
Conclusions: Autologous fat grafting offers several contouring aesthetic advantages, including selectively augmenting areas of hollowness to improve contour and maximize symmetry. However, implant augmentation generally allows for a larger increase in projection in a single procedure, with similar rates of postaugmentation complications. Use of both autologous fat grafting and implant augmentation may allow for superior aesthetic results.
- Fat grafting
ASJC Scopus subject areas