Types of procedure
Lipofilling or liposuction (sometimes called lipomodelling) is a procedure used to improve the contour of the reconstructed breast.
It involves taking fat from elsewhere in the body and injecting it into the required area (lipofilling), or removing fat from the reconstructed breast to reduce the volume (lipsuction). The result can give a soft, natural appearance and feel, and is minimally invasive.
For lipofilling fat is taken from your own body, often the thighs, buttocks or abdomen, in a procedure called liposuction.
It is done through small incisions into the skin. The removed fat is then concentrated and injected with great care in tiny amounts into the area to be lipofilled. This procedure is performed under a local or general anaesthetic depending on the amount of lipofilling needed.
Most patients don’t run into any problems, but you should be as fit as possible before the surgery and stop smoking.
Further complications can include;
- Swelling at the donor site, as with any liposuction – this can take a while to settle and this is why a compression garment is advisable. Bruising and skin discoloration can occur but this is usually temporary. Prior to the surgery you should not be taking aspirin or anti-inflammatory medication.
- Sensation – the treated areas can remain numb for several weeks.
- Some of the fat injected may disappear over time and the procedure may need to be repeated. Contour irregularities may occur but these should settle in time.
- The surgery is done in theatre usually as a day-case or an overnight stay. Arrange for someone to bring you and take you home from your procedure.
- You should rest for 24 hours and then increase your activity. Normal, non‑strenuous activity can be resumed after 2-3 days. You should refrain from work until your first check-up in 5-7days.
- You will have a few small stitches to close the incisions which will be removed in Dressing Clinic at 5-7 days.
- It is advisable to wear a snug girdle or long-legged knickers/cycle shorts over the area from where the fat has been taken for a few weeks. This will help with the swelling and bruising and also with the contouring of that area. Do not wear a bra for about 4 weeks as it can cause pressure on the lipofilled area, causing the fat to be reabsorbed.
Prepare yourself before your surgery. If you can, eat healthily, get as fit as possible, stop smoking in order to get through the surgery as well as possible. Make sure that you can rest for a good two weeks afterwards and have someone to look after you.
Scars take between a year and two years to mature depending on your skin type. This does not mean that the wounds have not healed. Scars change as time goes on: for the first two weeks they are very fine; then for about six weeks they become thick and red and often itch; everything feels tight and you may get little electric shocks as the nerves try to grow back. After that the scars soften gradually but remain red until fully mature.
Scars can also become very thick, unsightly and itchy: they are called hypertrophic. Massage and taping appears to reduce the chance of this happening.
Listen to your body. Do not try to do too much or feel that you should be fully recovered in a couple of weeks. A little siesta or rest every 3-4 hours is advisable in the first month.
There for you
One of our great achievements was to fund a clinical psychologist at the Norfolk & Norwich University Hospital who specialised in supporting breast cancer patients.
This service was not initially going to supported by the NHS, but after Keeping Abreast funded it for 18 months the Trust saw the value of it and decided to take on the funding.