Photo: Linda Barlett for National Cancer Institute
A pretty sensational press release crossed my desk today, claiming that the first "stem cell breast augmentation" had been performed in Florida, with an injection of regenerative cells that should increase the patient's bust by one cup size.
Fat was taken from the woman's thighs and hips via lipo, and then processed to extract natural regenerative cells - which were then injected into her breasts.
Now THAT'S my idea of recycling!
But remember that anytime you re-inject your own fat into your body, some absorption can happen. The release claims that this procedure retains 80% of the injected fat.
This all seemed a little too good to be true, so I consulted board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Parham Ganchi of Wayne, NJ to ask what he thought.
"This is basically fat injection to the breast which has been around since at least the early 90's. When fat is harvested, there are stem cells there. What these stem cells do or don't do is not known. What we do know is that by taking the fat and stem cells and whatever else is mixed in there and putting it in the breast, you can achieve a very modest breast augmentation. The problem is that there have been some concerns about the injected cells increasing the chance of breast cancer and interfering with our ability to detect breast cancer on a mammogram," says Dr. Ganchi.
If longer term studies show that the procedure is safe, Dr. Ganchi does think this could become a more popular option.
But because we're dealing with a possible connection to breast cancer, studies will take years - maybe even a lifetime.
So for now, silicone and saline are still your best friends.