Also known as Natural Breast Augmentation
Fat transfer breast augmentation essentially uses liposuction to take fat from other parts of your body and inject it into your breasts. This is a breast augmentation option for women who are looking for a relatively small increase in breast size and would prefer natural results.
Are you a good candidate for a fat transfer?
Breast augmentation: If you desire a modest increase in breast size, you are a good candidate for fat grafting to the breast, but your breasts should already have a nice shape and good skin tone. If you have poor skin, sagging breasts, or want a significant increase in breast size, breast augmentation with fat transfer is not for you. The problem with only using fat for breast enhancement lies in getting large volumes of fat to predictably “take.”
Breast implants plus fat grafting: If your breast shape needs optimizing during a breast implant procedure, fat grafting can be useful. If you have residual breast irregularities after undergoing breast augmentation with implants, the irregularities can be filled in with fat to produce a smooth contour and an optimal shape.
Breast reconstruction with fat grafting: If you have breast defects following lumpectomy for breast cancer, fat grafting is an effective method for filling in these defects. Fat grafting is also an option for total breast reconstruction following mastectomy; however, to achieve sufficient breast volume, this is usually a multistage process that requires at least two to four sequential fat grafting procedures.
If you are in good general health, have a positive attitude and realistic expectations, you are most likely a good candidate for this procedure.
How is a fat transfer procedure performed?
Fat is harvested from one part of your body, washed and purified, and then carefully re-injected with specially designed needles into the areas that need augmentation. It may be necessary to repeat the fat grafting procedure several times to achieve the desired result. Fat grafting can be explained as a three-stage process: (1) harvesting (2) purification and transfer and (3) placement.
Harvesting: You and your surgeon will select a site for fat removal and will inject it with a local anesthetic. Your surgeon will then create a small incision in the area for fat removal and, using a sterile technique, insert a cannula connected to a syringe to carefully extract fat (liposuction).
Purification and transfer: Once enough fat is obtained from the donor area, your surgeon will process it to prepare the fat cells for transfer to small syringes that will be used for fat injection. Purification may require the use of a centrifuge to spin the fat or a filtration process to remove impurities.
Placement: The area designated to receive the graft will then be prepared. Your surgeon will insert a needle or cannula into the incision point of the site being augmented. The injection needle is usually passed in and out of the areas to be augmented multiple times. Each time the needle or cannula is withdrawn, a line of fatty tissue parcels is carefully deposited in natural tissue planes. This process is repeated until the desired correction has been achieved, creating a grid of grafted fat. Some surgeons recommend massaging the grafted areas to create a satisfactory contour. Others prefer to rely on the placement technique to create the appropriate contour. The surgeon may also place a dressing or bandage over the grafted area.
The goal of your aesthetic plastic surgeon and the entire staff is to help you achieve the most beautiful and natural-looking results, as well as to make your surgical experience as easy and comfortable as possible.
Your initial consultation appointment
During your initial consultation, you will have the opportunity to discuss what you want to achieve. Your surgeon will evaluate you as a candidate for fat grafting and clarify what fat grafting can do for you. Once the surgeon understands your goals, he or she may suggest additional or related procedures. It is important to be completely honest during the consultation. Bring several photos of yourself at an earlier age; they may serve as a good point of reference for discussing your goals. It’s a good idea to be fully prepared to answer these questions:
Do you have any medical conditions or drug allergies? Are you being treated for any medical conditions?
Have you had any previous surgeries?
What are your current medications and vitamin and herbal supplements?
What is your current use of alcohol, tobacco and recreational drugs?
What is your history with any noninvasive cosmetic procedures?
What outcome do you expect from the surgery? What is your chief motivation in undergoing fat transfer?
Your surgeon may also:
Ask you to look in a mirror and point out exactly what you would like to see improved.
Take photos for your medical record, measure your face and use computer imaging to show you improvements you can expect.
Evaluate your health status, including pre-existing health conditions or risk factors.
Evaluate the elasticity of your skin.
Discuss your options and recommend a course of treatment.
Discuss likely outcomes, including risks or potential complications.
Discuss the type of anesthesia that will be used.
Aftercare and Recovery
Ask your doctor how long it will be before you can return to your normal level of activity and work following this procedure. After surgery, you and your caregiver will receive detailed instructions about your postsurgical care, including information about:
Drains, if they have been placed
Normal symptoms you will experience
Any potential signs of complications
See options for short-term recovery locations in Aftercare and Recovery (Planning Toolkit).
How will I look and feel immediately following a fat transfer?
Your plastic surgeon will advise you how to care for the sites from which fat was extracted. Recovery from fat injections is variable and perception of that recovery is even more highly variable. Here is some general recovery information related to facial fat injections:
The swelling and bruising during the first week are significant, and you will not be ready to see others socially or professionally.
In the second week the bruising resolves, but you will still have swelling.
There is a great improvement in most cases between the seventh and tenth days, but you may still not be ready to go out in public. Most people who have very little time off from work take one week off, including two flanking weekends. Those who can afford two weeks off or more are even better positioned to return to work.
By the third week, you will begin to look more like yourself. Careful application of makeup can be helpful in camouflaging any residual signs of swelling or bruising.
Once the swelling recedes, you will be able to appreciate the changes, but subtle swelling may persist for weeks.