If you have always wanted larger breasts, augmentation through fat grafting (also called fat transfer) may be an alternative to breast implants.  Although fat transfer has been practiced for many years, it has received greater attention recently for breast augmentation.  It is now performed for both reconstructive and cosmetic breast surgery.  Five frequently asked questions about fat grafting for breast augmentation are as follow:

What is fat grafting for breast augmentation?

This surgical procedure is performed under general anesthetic in an operating room setting.  Fat is first harvested gently from other body sites and carefully prepared for re-injection into the breasts.  It is injected to the desired size and contour to give soft and natural results.  In appropriately selected patients, fat transfer for breast augmentation uses one’s own body tissues exclusively and avoids the need for breast implants.

How much fat survives following fat transfer for breast augmentation?

Long-term studies of outcomes following fat transfer for breast augmentation are in progress.  It is not known exactly how much fat survives following grafting, however it may be possible to increase breast volume by 1-2 cup sizes.  More than one surgery may be required based on the degree of fat resorption and desired size.  Overcorrection is generally performed to account for partial resorption over time.  There are various techniques performed intra-operatively to increase the likelihood of fat survival.  The fat is gently harvested under low suction and decanted without using a centrifuge to minimize barotrauma to the fat cells.  The tumescent fluid that is injected prior to fat harvest does not include local anesthetic, which may be toxic to fat cells.  The fat is also injected into multiple planes within the breasts to avoid one large pocket.  This places a greater surface area of fat in closer proximity to blood vessels at the recipient site, which increases the likelihood of revascularization and long-lasting results.

Where is the fat harvested from?

Another advantage of fat transfer for breast augmentation is that fat may be removed from regions of undesired fatty deposits.  In addition to increasing breast size, liposuction of these regions may result in further aesthetic contour improvements.  Common areas for fat harvest include the abdomen, flanks, and thighs.

What is anticipated recovery following fat grafting for breast augmentation?

Given that surgery is limited to soft tissues, there is generally little discomfort following fat transfer for breast augmentation.  Patients may require prescription pain medication for a few days post-operatively.  It is generally possible to return to office-based work within a week of surgery.  Exercise and strenuous activity should be avoided for one month following fat transfer to decrease bruising, swelling, and risk of bleeding.

What is the expected outcome following fat grafting for breast augmentation?

Outcomes will vary between individuals given differences in desired size, amount of donor site fat, and breast size pre-operatively.  Fat grafted breasts may appear firm during early healing, but generally feel quite natural as swelling resolves and healing progresses.  They respond to gravity and movement in the same way as natural breast tissue.  There is risk of fat necrosis following fat grafting for breast augmentation, which may lead to focal areas of firmness if not all fat survives.  This generally improves with time following scar maturation and massage.

Please contact us if considering breast augmentation in the Toronto area to schedule a consultation with Dr. Power.  Options for cosmetic enhancement, whether fat grafting or implant-based, will be discussed based on your clinical presentation and desired outcome.