Women's Health

Fat Injections Can Hinder Mammograms

Fat Injections Can Hinder Mammograms

Injecting fat from other parts of the body to augment breasts is becoming more popular than the traditional methods used for breast enlargement procedures. Studies have indicated that the injection of fat in the breast tissue can hinder mammograms.

Two major studies published in the journal, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, reported the affects of fat and its ability to hinder mammogram results. In one of studies conducted in China, the results show that fat injections result in calcifications that may be mistaken for breast cancer in a mammogram. In another study, researchers report that the calcifications resulting from fat injections may not be considered as breast cancer.

Fat injections are also known as lipomodeling, lipoinjection, or fat grafting, and this involves reshaping of breasts using women’s own fat cells from other parts of the body. Reconstructive surgeon Kamran Khoobehi, director of aesthetic surgery training program at Louisiana State University, feels that many doctors have started taking up this procedure as it has become very popular among the patients.

In one of the studies, 48 women who had fat injections and who had mammograms after 18 months of the procedure were followed up to study the effects. Out of the total, eight women developed calcifications, which increased the suspicion of breast cancer. Breast biopsies showed that none of the women had cancerous growths.

Researcher Cong-Feng Wang, MD, and colleagues report that the calcifications are probably developed from the injected fat cells that died and accumulated together. In a mammogram, these calcifications were difficult to be distinguished from those associated with breast cancer. Researchers are of the opinion that fat injection should not be done for breast augmentation.

According to Khoobehi, this study is flawed and feels that this is the result of injecting dead fat cells along with the live ones which increased the chances of calcifications. “Further, massaging the breasts for redistributing the injected fat cells must have triggered the clumping of the fat cells rather than spreading them," he adds.

Radiologist Eva Rubin, MD, clinical director of the breast imaging center for Montgomery Radiology Associates in Montgomery, claims that fat necrosis and calcifications are normal with fat injections, but in most cases, these can be distinguished from the tumor cells. “There are many cases in which the patient develops calcifications soon after a procedure, but one might not conclude immediately that it is a tumor, especially when the doctor knows that the patient has had a procedure," adds Eva. Within a short period of time, the calcifications look like fat necrosis and can be distinguished.

Khoobehi suggests that women who want to have fat injections should consider the following:

  • Discuss with a doctor who is a certified plastic and reconstructive surgeon with experience
  • Always opt for long-term follow-ups
  • Avoid going to doctors who do not take risks seriously.
  • Avoid doctors who claim to perform breast augmentation with stem cell injections.