A pioneering Australian surgery may make it possible for breast cancer patients to "regrow" their breasts.
Professor Wayne Morrison’s team at the Bernard O’Brien Institute in Melbourne will stage a trial that offers hope to more the thousands of women who lose their breasts to cancer each year.
Up until now, mastectomy patients have had the option of either getting breast implants, or forgoing replacement altogether.
This new breakthrough could also completely revolutionize the cosmetic surgery industry by allowing women to grow bigger natural breasts.
For the past two years, Morrison has successfully "grown" breasts on pigs by inducing the animals’ own fat cells to reproduce into molded chambers implanted beneath the skin on their chests.
The chambers are inserted under the skin and each is "sown" with a chunk of fat about the size of two adult fingers, which has been taken from the pig’s body.
A blood vessel is looped through the fat, feeding it and allowing it to recruit more fat cells until it fills out the chamber. After 6-8 months, the chambers are removed leaving perfectly formed, functioning breasts, complete with their own blood supply.
If the human trials follow the pigs’ success, the new procedure will result in breasts that look and feel perfectly natural — because they are perfectly natural.
Bernard O’Brien Institute CEO Dr. Phillip Marzella said the process could take longer in women because, unlike animals, humans stop growing at adolescence.
Morrison said the breast replacement technique could be the tip of the iceberg. "If it is satisfactory we could use this method to treat any type of contour defect whether it is breast, a congenital deformity or trauma such as where someone has suddenly lost chunks of themself," Morrison said.