The effect of hyperbaric oxygenation on the viability of human fat injected into nude mice

O. Shoshani, A. Shupak, Y. Ullmann, Y. Ramon, A. Gilhar, I. Kehat, I. J. Peled

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Autologous free-fat injection for the correction of soft-tissue defects has become a common procedure in plastic surgery. The main shortcoming of this method for achieving permanent soft-tissue augmentation is the partial absorption of the injected fat, an occurrence that leads to the need for both overcorrection and repeated fat reinjection. Improving the oxygenation of the injected fat has been suggested as a means of helping to overcome the initial critical phase that occurs postinjection (when the fat cells are nourished by osmosis), increasing phagocyte activity, accelerating fibroblast activity and collagen formation, and enhancing angiogenesis. In addition, the hyperbaric oxygen-mediated decrement in endothelial leukocyte adhesion will decrease cytokine release, thereby reducing edema and inflammatory responses. The purpose of the present study was to examine the effect of hyperbaric oxygenation on improving the viability of injected fat. Adipose tissue obtained from human breasts by suction-assisted lipectomy was injected into the subcuticular nuchal region in nude mice. The mice were then exposed to daily hyperbaric oxygen treatments, breathing 100% oxygen at 2 atmospheres absolute (ATA) for 90 minutes. The duration of the administered hyperbaric oxygen therapy was 5, 10, or 15 days, according to the study group. Mice exposed to normobaric air alone served as the control group, and each group included 10 animals. The rats were killed 15 weeks after fat injection. The grafts were dissected out, weight and volume were measured, and histologic evaluation was performed. In all of the study groups, at least part of the injected fat survived, giving the desired clinical outcome. No significant differences could be found between the groups regarding fat weight and volume. Histopathologic examination of the dissected grafts demonstrated a significantly better integrity of the fat tissue in the group that received hyperbaric oxygen for 5 days (p = 0.047). This finding was manifested by the presence of well-organized, intact fat cells, along with a normal appearance of the fibrous septa and blood vessels. The worst results were found in animals treated by hyperbaric oxygenation for 15 consecutive days. An inverse correlation was found between an increased dose of the high-pressure oxygen and fat tissue integrity (r = -0.87, p = 0.076). The toxic effects of highly reactive oxygen species on fat cells might explain the failure of an excessively high dose of hyperbaric oxygen to provide any beneficial outcome. The clinical relevance of these results should be further investigated.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1390-1396
Number of pages7
JournalPlastic and Reconstructive Surgery
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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