Breast augmentation by fat transfer is becoming ever more popular with women turning to it as a great alternative to breast implants. But what is it?
- Also known as fat grafting or lipofilling.
- Fat transfer can increase the size of your breasts by using your fat from other parts of your body.
- The results are soft and natural feeling.
- Fat transfer is a day only procedure, performed under general anaesthesia in a major hospital.
Breast augmentation with fat grafting offers patients an alternative to breast implants. Breast augmentation with fat grafting compared to breast augmentation with implants is a very different approach with very different outcomes.
Fat grafting utilises fat that is first harvested by traditional liposuction techniques. The harvested fat is then processed by filtration and then re-injected in small droplets into the breast region. Each droplet of fat is then maintained by basic diffusion of nutrients from the surrounding tissues before establishing a more permanent blood supply over 1-2 weeks. Once the fat has survived, it will stay alive permanently. It will even increase in size or decrease in size with changes in weight.
Fat grafting is a technique that has been used for many years all over the body. More recently, the technique has become more refined and has seen the ability to harvest larger amounts of fat for injection.
Fat grafting is used in many areas of the body to fill defects that have come about through a variety of reasons, such as trauma, cancer or congenital defects. Most commonly, however, it is used in the setting of breast reconstruction following breast cancer treatment.
Over the last decade, there has been an increasing awareness and use of fat grafting in the setting of cosmetic breast augmentation. This technique offers a natural-looking and feeling volume increase of your breasts with the added benefit of reducing fat from unwanted areas. More, importantly, it avoids any concerns that patients may have with the use of silicone breast implants.
Remarkable as this technique is, lipofilling has some limitations. One of these limitations is that there is a variable rate of fat survival. This means that only a percentage of the fat that is injected will “take”. However, the fat that does survive is permanent. The rate of fat “take” is normally 70-90%, but this can vary between 30-90% depending on the quality of the fat harvest, the blood supply of the recipient tissue, the density and amount of scarring present at the recipient site and the technique of the surgeon. This variable “take” implies that fat grafting may require more than one surgery to achieve the desired result and that it can be difficult to guarantee a certain volume increase in your breast with this technique.
As you can see, the discussion about fat grafting for breast augmentation is complex. However, if you are interested in a completely natural-looking and feeling breast augmentation without the use of breast implants, you should consider fat grafting.
Dr Quoc Lam is a specialist plastic and reconstructive surgeon with a special interest in breast surgery. He frequently performs this procedure and would be happy to discuss it in detail with you. If you would like to take the next step in meeting Dr Quoc Lam, please contact Cranford House Plastic Surgery for an appointment.
Breast Augmentation By Fat Transfer FAQ’s
Fat transfer to the breast is permanent. However a few variables make this a little difficult to interpret. Firstly, post surgical swelling will give the impression of a larger volume which will naturally settle within weeks. Secondly, there is a variable rate of fat take (~70-90%), this will also take several weeks to resolve. When both these factors are accounted for, a patient who has fat grafting will often feel that the result is smaller than they anticipated, but in truth, the decrease in volume in the short term is expected. The fat that does “take” is permanent and natural.
Fat is often taken form the thighs, abdomen or lower back. This is done by liposuction. The recovery from this is predictable and fairly simple. You will experience some swelling, bruising and tenderness, that should settle within 1-2 weeks. You will also often have a period tingling as the sensory nerves in the region begin to “wake up”.
Although most people would be suitable candidates for this procedure, if you are too slim and have no excess fat present to transfer to your breasts, then the procedure is not possible. Interestingly, it is quite rare not to have some pockets of fat that can be utilised even in very thin and very fit individuals.
To increase your chance of fat take, it is also unfavourable if you are a smoker or recent ex-smoker. Smoking decreases the blood supply of your tissues and would mean that the fat is less likely to take.