London: British surgeons are using stem-cell-enriched fat from women’s bodies to repair the damage of surgery following breast cancer operations and radiotherapy.
The procedure, which is being trialled at Leeds General Infirmary, so far appears to restore the softness and suppleness of breast tissues, as well as the painful aftermath of treatments.
Each year around 31,000 British women undergo operations to remove cancerous tissue which normally leaves an unsightly cavity in the breast. Some surgeons have already used fat transfer to repair the damage as well as reducing the size of the other breast to match the damaged one.
Scientists believe that fat enriched with stem cells reduces inflammation and helps maintain a healthy blood supply so that the body’s repair system works more efficiently.
Fears that the stem-cells might encourage more cancer cell proliferation have also proved groundless.
The cancer patient’s own fat cells are harvested and made into a concentrate which is reinjected. More than 90% of the fat survives the process.
Lead investigator and consultant plastic surgeon Eva Weiler-Mithoff says she is impressed with the results so far. “What is striking is the softness and suppleness the technique gives the skin and tissues. When I see these stem-cell-enhanced patients after three months, their skin is significantly softer.”