Breast Fat Transfer 101
While breast augmentation using implants is the most popular cosmetic procedure year after year, many patients are becoming interested in methods of increasing the size of their breasts that doesn’t involve a foreign object (a.k.a implants). One alternative to breast implants is fat transfer, also known as fat grafting. There are some distinct pros and cons to this treatment (as there are for all cosmetic procedures) as well as some common questions about fat transfer breast augmentation that I’ll try to simplify for you here.
Fat transfer breast augmentation is a procedure designed to increase the size of the breasts without using breast implants. Instead, volume is created by transferring your own fat from an area of the body where you may have some excess to your breasts.
To complete this type of breast augmentation, fat is harvested from your own body – usually the abdomen or inner thighs – but it can also be harvested from the back, arms or hips using liposuction. Liposuction is completed by inserting a cannula through a small incision (less than 1 cm), which then separates the fat cells from the surrounding tissues before suctioning them away to be collected in a sterile canister. This fat is then prepared, purified and injected into the breasts to create increased volume and fullness and an enhanced shape. The procedure is usually performed under general anesthesia.
After fat transfer breast augmentation, about 20-30% of the transferred fat cells typically die and are absorbed by the body, meaning that your final results are not visible until several weeks or months after the procedure. Once the remaining fat cells have developed a blood supply within the breasts, they are permanent.
However, fat cells grow and shrink depending on whether you gain or lose weight. So, you may see an increase or decrease of your breast size over time in correlation with weight loss or gain.
Some patients choose fat transfer breast augmentation over a traditional implant-based procedure because they’re more comfortable avoiding having artificial materials placed in their body; while implants are generally considered safe, some patients prefer a more natural alternative. Fat transfer breast augmentation patients may also prefer the more natural look and feel that this procedure can offer because it simply increases the size of the breast without significantly changing the shape. It is also a good option for those who are interested in sculpting the body and creating a balanced figure through liposuction – in many cases the fat transfer is not the primary procedure but more of an add on for those having liposuction who don’t want to “waste” the fat.
Fat transfer breast augmentation may not be right for patients looking for a more dramatic result from their procedure as it will only increase the size of the breasts by ½ to 1 cup size. If that’s the only reason though, it is possible to do multiple rounds of fat transfer to achieve whatever volume is desired. For patients looking to significantly change the shape of their breasts (in particular to have a very round shape) it may not be the best option because fat does not provide structure, just volume. While it can be combined with a lift to help address the shape, there are some women who want a look that only implants can give. Of course, I will discuss your goals with you during a consultation and help you decide between implants, a fat transfer, or a combination of the two.
The biggest reason that someone may avoid fat transfer is because of potential changes seen on a mammogram. The 20-30% of the fat that does not survive can take on an appearance that is concerning to a radiologist reading a mammogram and potentially lead to unnecessary further investigations. It’s important to be very upfront about having had this procedure before any breast imaging because they can usually tell the difference if they know what they’re looking at. For patients who are high anxiety or high risk when it comes to breast cancer then it may not be the best idea to go this route and instead have implants which definitely will not be mistaken for cancer.
Yes! Not only can fat transfer be combined with implants, but in my opinion combining these two procedures gives the best results possible. The implants give a foundational shape to the breasts and the majority of the volume then the fat is used to “boost” the cleavage area and give more “pop” to the breasts without making them look fake. Combining this with an internal bra suture to lengthen the torso, help give a round bottom half of the breast and secure the implants long term is the ultimate breast enhancement if you ask me!
To find out if fat transfer breast augmentation is right for you, schedule a free consultation so we can discuss what options will work best for you. You can set up your free consultation appointment by calling (416) 907-4704 or contacting us online through this form.
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