Fat Stem Cell Injections for Breast Enlargement
Since last year there has been a huge increase in research news regarding breast augmentation with fat. Fat is removed by liposuction from your body, washed and processed (or not) and then injected into the breasts for breast enlargement. The transferred fat cells have some “stem cells” among them. Imagine these as baby cells that can grow to become any type of tissue based on where they are placed. So if you put them in the breast they become breast fat; if you place them near nerves they become nerves.
Stem cells from skin
In breast augmentation, fat injections play a minor role, as we are primarily transferring fat as a fat graft. The cells do not need to transform. What is a really exciting breakthrough is the ability of stem cells in fat to become other types of tissues. Yesterday a news flash further added to advances in tissue engineering. A team has been able to get stem cells from skin. They took skin cells and infected them with a virus that changes DNA code to transform them into nerve and heart cells!
Stem cells in cosmetic surgery
For a cosmetic plastic surgeon, these advances are simply fantastic. In years to come, they will change plastic surgery and cosmetic surgery in particular totally. The current variable unreproducible results from fat injections will become standardized, and augmentation of breasts, buttocks, chins and noses will become simple injections of fat or skin rather than surgery with breast implants, cartilage implants or silicone implants. Smaller incisions, smaller scars, less pain—the advantages are endless.
Danger of stem cells
There is only one problem: cells that change also have another name. We commonly call them cancer cells. Indeed, a recent study of breast augmentations with fat injections in mice showed an increase in the rate of breast cancer development. This would be catastrophic, and the initial hoopla of fat injections being the way to go for breast enlargement has been doused with these and other similar findings. The future is bright, but we are just at the beginning of a long and dangerous tunnel of tissue engineering. A lot more research needs to be done, and we need to fully understand what we are doing to patients. At present, fat injections for breast augmentation may border on irresponsible.
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