Fat Graft

Fat Graft

PEP Topic 
Chronic Pain

Fat tissue grafting has been done by injecting fat tissue that is obtained via liposuction. This procedure was examined in women with severe scare retraction and postmastectomy pain for its effect on pain.

Effectiveness Not Established

Research Evidence Summaries

Caviggioli, F., Maione, L., Forcellini, D., Klinger, F., & Klinger, M. (2011). Autologous fat graft in postmastectomy pain syndrome. Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, 128, 349–352.

doi: 10.1097/PRS.0b013e31821e70e7

Study Purpose:

To assess the clinical effectiveness of lipoaspirate graft in the treatment of postmastectomy pain syndrome

Intervention Characteristics/Basic Study Process:

At baseline (prior to autologous fat grafting) and after treatment, pain was measured using a visual analog scale, and analgesic and drug intake were recorded. A nontreatment control group completed the same measures. At one year, measures were repeated in both groups.

Sample Characteristics:

  • The study reported on 113 patients with severe scar retraction and postmastectomy pain syndrome related to breast cancer (treatment group = 72, control group = 41). Sixty-three patients in the treatment group and 35 patients in the control were analyzed.
  • Patient age was not reported.
  • The sample was assumed to be 100% female due to breast cancer population, but this was not stated.


  • Single site
  • Milan, Italy

Phase of Care and Clinical Applications:

  • Patients were undergoing the active treatment phase of care.
  • The study has clinical applicability for late effects and survivorship.

Study Design:

The study was a prospective, longitudinal intervention with experimental and control groups.

Measurement Instruments/Methods:

  • Visual analog scale for pain (0–10) at baseline and one year     
  • Analgesic use recorded at baseline and one year


In the treatment group, there was a decrease in pain (p < 0.0005). The authors noted that 28 of 34 patients stopped their analgesic therapy at 13 months.


  • The study has a small sample, with less than 100 participants.
  • The study lacks a randomized control group.
  • Information about demographics is missing, making baseline characterization of the groups difficult to ascertain.

Nursing Implications:

More research is needed to determine if autologous fat grafts will benefit women with postmastectomy pain, but this may be a promising area of study.