In Melbourne, Australia, a three-year trial is beginning to test whether a cancer patient could grow new breasts after a mastectomy. This is the first time that such a hypothesis has been tested and only the second time that tissue engineering is done on a human being. It has been tried with pigs, which did grow new breasts in six weeks.

This experiment will implant stem cells from the woman’s own fatty tissue, and as they rapidly multiply, will shape them into a replica of the lost breast. The technique is called Neopec and if it is successful, may replace breast reconstruction and breast implants within a few years. The three-year trial is being done at Melbourne’s Bernard O’Brien Institute of Microsurgery, which previously succeeded in making working heart tissue.

How the New Breast Will Grow

First, a biodegradable, synthetic chamber will be implanted beneath the woman’s skin, in the correct shape to act as scaffolding for the new breast. Then an underarm blood vessel will be redirected through the chamber to a small piece of the woman’s fat, about five milliliters.

The cells in that piece of fat will multiply, nourished by the blood vessel, and continue to multiply until the fatty tissue reaches the edges of the implanted chamber. Then the chamber will degrade and will not have to be surgically removed. It is expected that this whole process will take between four and six months.

The chief surgeon, Dr. Phillip Marzella, has a team of doctors who have developed a gel called Myogel that will promote fat cell growth in the chamber, speeding up the process. It will gradually dissolve and be excreted by the body.

What are the Implications?

If this trial is successful, the implications for plastic surgery are enormous. Any defect in the body contour could potentially be corrected in a similar way, whether it is an accident injury or a congenital deformity, or just a contour that the person would like to change for cosmetic reasons. Perhaps women will be able to grow larger breasts naturally.

Meanwhile, there are many existing choices for how to change your body contours. Perhaps you would like to know more about Ultrasonic Liposuction or the male tummy tuck.

If you would like to schedule a personal consultation with plastic surgeon Dr. Rai, please call or email our Dallas, Texas office today.