Patient's Own Body Fat Used in Breast Remodeling

ByABC News
March 24, 2008, 12:31 AM

Mar. 23 -- MONDAY, July 9 (HealthDay News) -- Injecting a woman's own fat from her belly or thigh into the breast to reconstruct it after breast cancer lumpectomy shows real promise, the developers of the new technique say.

Called "Celution," the investigational procedure involves "supercharging" the fat cells so they will stay where they are injected, explained Dr. Eric Daniels, senior director of business development for Cytori Therapeutics in San Diego, which developed the approach.

Celution is not yet available in the United States. However, later this year, the company expects to launch a breast reconstruction study in Europe for women who had undergone partial mastectomy. The procedure is expected to be available in Europe in 2009.

The news sparked a story in the London-based industry publication Chemistry & Industry, headlined "Breast Boost in Your Lunch Hour."

That's misleading, said Daniels and Tom Baker, Cytori's director of investor relations, since the process takes at least two or three hours. And while breast augmentation with the procedure is a possibility in the future, the target patient right now is a woman with breast cancer who needs breast defects filled in after a partial mastectomy or "lumpectomy."

A plastic surgery expert not involved in the company said the approach might work if issues surrounding fat injections -- such as the likelihood of fat being absorbed by the body -- can be worked out.

In the technique, adipose (fat) tissue is taken from the patient, using a minor liposuction-like procedure. The tissue is then placed into the Celution system, and processing begins. An hour or so later, a dose of regenerative cells is delivered back to the patient, injected in the breast.

Fat tissue contains many types of cells, Baker said, but the stem cells and regenerative cells are the "stars" that make the reconstruction possible.

"We are trying to restore a defect," said Daniels. "We are trying to match the contralateral (opposite) breast." There are few reconstructive options to achieve that type of balance for these patients, Baker and Daniels said.