In vitro investigation into the forces involved during lipofilling

Laura J Leslie, Yezen Sheena, Duncan Shepherd, Amir Ismail, Stephen Kukureka, Vik Vijh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Breast augmentation using implants is the most common aesthetic and reconstructive breast surgical procedure. Complications such as implant rupture maybe related to surgical technique and damage to the implant. Autologous fat transfer (lipofilling) using metallic cannulae has become a standard adjunctive, yet there is little evidence on lipofilling safety in the presence of implants. The aims of this study are to verify the effects of different cannulae and to quantify the forces applied by surgeons during lipofilling. Silicone gel-filled textured implants (200 mL), mounted in a specially constructed mould were ruptured with two different cannulae: type A (hole at tip: sharp), and type B (hole away from tip: blunt), driven at three speeds (10, 100, and 1000 mm/min), and the force at rupture was recorded. Additionally, the maximum 10 forces over a 30 second period applied by 11 plastic surgeons against a breast implant in an in vitro environment were recorded using a load cell attached to a type A cannula. Statistical analysis of comparative results was performed using t-tests with p<0.05 considered significant. Results showed that the implant ruptured at forces up to 25% lower when cannula A was used compared to cannula B. This supports current technique in lipofilling in the use of a blunt tipped cannula. There was a significant difference between some displacement rates only, due to the viscoelastic nature of the material. The tactile force that surgeons use during lipofilling was modelled in vitro and showed a range of maximum forces between 0.23 and 16.8 N, with a mean maximum value of 6.9 N. Limitations of this study are that it may not reflect in vivo behaviour of breast implants. More studies are needed to confirm the safety of breast lipofilling in the presence of implants using these data as a starting point.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1111-1116
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part H: Journal of Engineering in Medicine
Issue number11
Early online date4 Oct 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2018

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