In the procedure, Bruce Kraemer, MD, director of the division of plastic surgery at Saint Louis University and a SLUCare physician, removes fat from the patient and “cleanses” it in the Revolve device. Using a solution, Dr. Kraemer cleans the fat of blood and oils in less than five minutes. He then injects the fat cells back into the desired area, filling in the tissue more naturally than other options such as implants.
Previous graft procedures could take as long as 30 minutes to purify the fat, potentially killing fat cells in the process and making them less than desirable for grafting back into the body. Since this takes under five minutes, Dr. Kraemer says there is a high survival of cells.
The other advantage to this approach is larger volumes of fat are able to be processed. Up to 5-10 times the volume of fat that was classically harvested and processed in the past. Dr. Kraemer says it allows larger regions to be filled in.
The patient audience is a growing one. More women are choosing to have both breasts removed as a precaution when diagnosed with breast cancer. According to a 2011 study in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, the percentage of women choosing to remove both breasts when only one has cancer jumped from 6.7% in 1997 to 24% in 2005.
“There is no doubt more women are having bilateral mastectomy for breast cancer,” says Dr. Kraemer. “This allows us to give a woman more natural, symmetric breasts.”
He says after breast cancer surgery, each side may have had a different surgical approach and implants to reconstruct after surgery can still leave breasts uneven. “They often are not restored to their natural appearance and that’s where this grafting procedure comes in,” says Dr. Kraemer.
There is a potential for trauma patients as well. Saint Louis University Hospital is one of only three Level 1 trauma centers in the St. Louis area and this application should prove beneficial for many of those patients — particularly for those patients with facial injuries.
In addition, the added benefit according to Dr. Kramer is the fat removed from the abdomen or thighs to graft elsewhere in the body. “I think most of us have fat in places we’d like to have removed,” he says.
For more information, call 314-577-8793.
About Saint Louis University Hospital
Saint Louis University Hospital is a 356-licensed bed quaternary/tertiary referral center located in the heart of the city of St. Louis. Approximately 75 percent of patients are drawn from a 150-mile radius. Through affiliation as the teaching hospital for Saint Louis University, the hospital provides patients and their families with an environment of medical innovation. Working in this endeavor are the hospital’s medical staff partners, SLUCare, the physicians of Saint Louis University. The hospital admits more than 17,000 patients annually, performs more than 200 organ transplants a year and is a Level I Trauma Center that treats more than 2,000 major trauma cases a year.