Doctors have succeeded in using stem cells taken from liposuctioned fat to reconstruct breasts damaged by the removal of cancerous tissue, it has emerged.
Japanese experts have reported that the experimental technique, which has so far been attempted on only a handful of volunteers, could be a viable reconstructive and cosmetic surgery option for millions of women in the future.
In the study, which was led by Dr Keizo Sugimachi of Kyushu University, fat was removed from the belly, hips or thighs of 21 breast cancer patients using liposuction.
Stem cells were extracted from the fat and injected in three places around the breast defect, forming implants that doctors hope will be long-lasting.
According to Dr Sugimachi, "about 80 per cent of the patients are satisfied", the Press Association reports.
Dr Karol Gutowski of the University of Wisconsin-Madison added that the approach is "a pretty exciting topic right now in plastic surgery".