'Love handles' may provide tissue for breast reconstruction

In collaboration with Adfero

A small study has shown that tissue from a person's so-called 'love handles' could be used to carry out breast reconstruction following surgery for breast cancer.

Some patients who have undergone a mastectomy have breast reconstruction using their own tissue, rather than implants.

This tissue is usually taken from a flap of fat and skin from the abdominal region, according to Dr Ariel Rad, assistant professor of cosmetic surgery and plastic and reconstructive surgery at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine; however, some slim, athletic women do not have enough tissue in this area to perform the procedure.

"But even they often have some excess fatty tissue in that space between the hip and waist. For them, using those love handles is a new option," Dr Rad revealed.

The Johns Hopkins team have published the results of their study, which included 12 breast cancer patients, in the journal Microsurgery.

They discovered that the majority of women have a lengthy blood vessel underneath the buttocks that can be attached to blood vessels in the breast region.

In their clinical trial, all 12 of the patients underwent successful breast reconstruction using the experimental procedure.

Martin Ledwick, Cancer Research UK's head information nurse said: "This is early research into a potential new surgical technique that could present women with more options after they have been treated for breast cancer. The trial only looked at a small group of women so further research would be needed before it could be made available to the public."