Fat transfer for breast augmentation has become increasingly popular as an alternative to breast implants. This is possibly due to the rise of breast implant illness cases that are widely reported or shared on social media. Transferring fat to add volume to the breast is the most natural enhancement because you use your own tissue and fat cells. You will never have to worry about a rupture or leakage from an implant that could potentially make you sick.
However, with any cosmetic procedure, there are some risks and limitations. And a fat transfer for a breast augmentation definitely has pros and cons.
We share all the details about what’s involved with a fat transfer process and the results you can expect from this breast augmentation method.
Let’s start with the basic question, what is a fat transfer?
A Fat Transfer or fat grafting is the harvesting of fat cells from other parts of the body and then injecting them into another part of the body to create more volume and fullness to the area. The fat cells are harvested with a liposuction procedure from a different body area. Common areas where fat can be transferred are the abdomen, flanks (love handles), and thighs.
Once the fat is liposuction out of the body, it is filtered and processed into syringes with needles then injected into the recipient areas.
A fat transfer or fat grafting can be used on:
A fat transfer for breast augmentation is a two-step process. The surgeon removes the fat from the donated area, typically a place in the body where the patient no longer wants pockets of fat and a contoured or slimmer shape. The fat is removed with a traditional liposuction process by making a tiny incision into the donation site and inserting a cannula (thin tube) that sucks out the unwanted fat. The fat is filtered for impurities and processed to a pulp and into syringes with fine needles injected into the breasts.
The surgeon can put up to 400 CCs in the breast, but only about half of the fat cells will survive simply because fat needs to be touching live [adipose] tissue to get oxygen and nutrients to live off of to survive.
A fat transfer for breast augmentation is an ideal procedure for someone looking for a modest change to their breast size and shape. The procedure is a viable option to add natural fullness to the upper area of the breast because, over time, fat in the breast tends to drop lower, losing the volume from the top.
Breast augmentation with a fat transfer does not deliver the same results as a breast implant but is a good alternative for someone who doesn’t want to place foreign objects into their body.
With a breast implant, the patient can choose the size and shape they want to add to their breast. Whereas a fat transfer augmentation doesn’t guarantee the volume injected into the breasts, about 30-50% of the fat cells will naturally die and absorb into the body.
If the fat cells successfully survive the transfer after about a month after the procedure, they will stay alive long-term. And if a patient wants to add more volume, they can have multiple fat transfers procedures. During a second transfer, the survival rate for fat cells increases because more live fat cells from your first transfer can support, feed, and oxygenate the additional fat cells.
However, adding more fat to the area does not fix skin laxity (the cause for sagging boobs) or can stop the fat cells from dropping naturally to the lower part of your breast, making them appear like they are drooping. A fat transfer breast augmentation can help fill out the shape of breasts but can’t provide a breast lift, which would require an additional procedure to remove excess skin.
So many cosmetic procedures require artificial substances or objects to enhance your natural features. Breast augmentation with a fat transfer is the ideal cosmetic procedure that provides a natural alternative.
Here are a few more benefits for a fat transfer breast augmentation:
With any cosmetic procedure, they come with a risk, and a fat transfer for breast augmentation has some risks involved. Starting with the death of the fat cells, called fat necrosis, when the fat doesn’t get enough oxygenated blood during the transfer, causing the cells to bubble and form a lump.
The lumps can be painful, calcify and harden. If this happens, it’s best to have a doctor examine the bumps to possibly remove them surgically.
An ideal candidate for a fat transfer for breast augmentation has a realistic expectation for the final results of this procedure. They have a good understanding that a fat transfer to the breast creates a modest increase in size and shape. And the survival rate of the transferred fat cells is around 50 %.
Other ideal characteristics for a good candidate for a breast fat transfer include:
Increasing your breast size by using your fat and tissue without the risk of breast implant leakage or rupture is one of the main reasons women turn to fat transfer breast augmentation.
You are getting rid of fat in an area that could use less of it by inserting it into your breast that could use more volume. It can be a win-win, as long as you only want to increase the breast size and shape modestly and conservatively. A fat transfer will not provide a dramatically different transformation but will deliver a more subtle and natural change to the breast.
To find a board-certified cosmetic surgeon experienced with fat transfer or fat grafting for the breast, use our “Find a Doctor” navigation tool for a medical professional in your area.