I have a couple of question about breast asymmetry for a research project for school.
Can a fat transfer operation be completed to rectify breast asymmetry, or must a breast implant be used?
Is a fat transfer operation a more expensive way to rectify the problem or is it cheaper?
Hi there and thanks for your question. Autologous Fat Transfer (AFT) can be used and is a good tool for mild breast asymmetry (<100cc volume difference), however there are a few issues with using this technique in Australia.
Firstly, the regulatory body for new technologies in Australia (ASERNIPS) has not yet approved this technique for “normal breasts”. That is, breasts with intact breast gland within it. Consequently, Medical Defence Organisations (MDO’s) can choose not to cover surgeons who perform AFT in normal breasts if there is a problem. Some studies from overseas have demonstrated that fats cells and specifically fat derived stem cells have the ability to enhance cancer cell growth in the laboratory. It is therefore a cause for concern for some surgeons and MDO’s. The fear is that there are no long term studies demonstrating the safety of AFT, specifically in not causing breast cancers and the data may take decades to retrieve.
Secondly, the amount of “graft take” after AFT can be unpredictable. As a result, patients may need the procedure performed more than once. Medicare and the private insurance companies have not yet caught up with AFT in Australia and hence, patients may find themselves with large out of pocket costs for this procedure, especially if it needs to be performed several times.
Finally, there are many causes and types of “Breast Asymmetry”, not all of which are related to volume. The nipple size and position, breast dimensions and skin laxity can all vary, without significant volume differences, between the breasts. Consequently, it is up to the surgeon to develop an approach that is tailored to the specific cause of the asymmetry applicable to the patient which may necessitate augmentation of one or both sides, in one or more procedures.
Medicare and most private insurance companies do recognise the issue of significant breast asymmetry and may cover some of the cost of the surgery including the cost of implants when used. This can make breast implants a cheaper alternative than AFT for appropriate patients with significant asymmetry.
I hope this answers your queries but please do let me know if you require further information.
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