Improving Fat Grafting

Life After Breast Cancer Research UK: improving fat transfer


Fat transfer, a technique which is becoming increasingly popular in breast reconstruction, involves fatty tissue being removed from other areas of the body (usually the thighs or belly), processed and then injected into the lumpectomy or mastectomy site to help recreate the breast.

Whilst promising, this technique currently has significant complications; up to 90% of the transferred fat can be reabsorbed into the body resulting in multiple operations spanning many months, or even years.

RAFT’s Dr. Anna Wilson is working with Professor Peter Butler, Consultant Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon FRCSI FRCS (Plast) at the Royal Free Hospital  to find a solution to the body’s high rate of fat breakdown.

Studies have shown a significant decrease in fat re-absorption when the patient’s own stem cells are added to the fat before it is re-injected. It is believed that stem cells increase fat survival by encouraging the growth of new blood vessels, and developing into mature fat cells.

RAFT is developing more efficient and high-yield methods of isolating and purifying stem cells. We are also investigating methods of transferring stem cells and fat onto 3D ‘scaffolds’ to increase the survival and function of cells after transplant and to improve cosmetic results.

We are looking to reach clinical trial by 2017.


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We understand that rebuilding lives after breast cancer does not finish with a mastectomy