Minimally Invasive Breast Augmentation with Fat Transfer
Breast augmentation continues to be the most popular and frequently performed aesthetic surgery and has been since 2006, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS). In 2018, more than 313,000 breast augmentation procedures were performed in the United States. These statistics issued in the 2018 Plastic Surgery Statistics Report reflect a 48% growth relative to the number of breast augmentation surgeries reported in 2000 (1). Similarly, in Texas, breast enhancement surgery is the top cosmetic surgical procedure and has a long and successful track record in satisfying women who wish to enhance, regain or restore balance to their figures. Most of the consistently popularity of breast augmentation is due to the technological innovations and improvements in procedural techniques, which resulted in the myriad of options offered nowadays to women looking to add volume to their chest. Autologous Fat Transfer (or fat grafting) breast augmentation can be a great option available for many women who want to restore the natural shape and size of their breasts in a subtle way, rather than gaining much more volume. Breast augmentation with fat transfer can be used with or without additional breast implants, and can help you boost your self-confidence, giving you natural and beautiful results.
Remarkable, long-lasting, and natural improvements of breast size and shape are achieved with autologous fat grafting. It combines the cosmetic benefits of liposuction and breast augmentation; therefore, this breast enhancement procedure is becoming increasingly popular. Patients who would benefit the most with fat transfer breast augmentation are: 1) women who wish to have a smaller enlargement of her breasts using her own fat, harvested through liposuction from a specific area of their bodies in which there are abundant fat cells, such thighs, abs and hips, 2) women who want to restore the natural shape and size of their breasts following treatment for breast cancer, 3) women who want to address minor breast asymmetry that requires only a subtle adjustment, and 4) patients who desire to fine-tune the results of a breast implant procedure with fat transfer for a more even, natural look. It’s worth mentioning that since fat transfer breast augmentation utilizes autologous fat (from your own body), the chance of allergic reactions to foreign substances, such as dermal fillers are reduced, and the results are longer lasting.
The first step in fat transfer breast augmentation uses VASER Liposuction to collect viable fat cells from a donor area (such abs, flanks, back, hips, arms and thighs) on the patient’s own body. A woman must have enough fat cells to collect a generous amount during the liposuction stage (2). These fat cells are then specially treated and prepared for injection into the breast. The preparation process clears the donor fat of blood, pain killers and other unwanted elements that could cause infections or other undesirable complications. Every patient is unique, and results vary from woman to woman due to many factors (patients’ anatomy, history of smoking, non-compliance with post-op protocols, among others). The final profile of the breasts depends on how many fat cells are successfully transferred and the patient body’s response to surgery. In some cases, a follow-up treatment may be necessary to achieve the desired volume. Breast augmentation using fat transfer offers permanent results that feel and look like natural breast tissue without the use of an implant. For women who want to improve their breast size by a larger amount, saline or silicone gel implants are recommended combined with a fat transfer augmentation procedure.
As with every surgery, there are some risks associated with fat transfer breast augmentation such as cysts, infection, necrosis (death) of fat cells, and microcalcification among others, according to the ASPS (3). However, an experienced and specially trained plastic surgeon can help diminish those risks significantly. Most women experience some initial discomfort following their procedure. The breasts may feel full and swollen, and the liposuction donor sites may be sore and bruised. Using cold packs can help you feel more comfortable and reduce swelling. Patients will notice an immediately change in their breast profile. Your plastic surgeon will transfer excess fat initially to account for the natural fat loss with fat grafting. This fat, as an autologous tissue, can be considered an ideal filler because of its biocompatibility. Fat resorption may occur after fat transfer breast augmentation because some of the fat cells do not survive when they are transferred to its new environment, due to limited blood supply. However, fat transfer successful results can be permanent. Usually, a highly skilled and experienced plastic surgeon will achieve around 65% to 85% survival rate of the fat cells (4). As swelling continues to dissipate and the transferred cells thrive, patients’ final results become more visible. Typically, most patients can return to work and their regular activities in one week after breast augmentation with fat transfer.
(1) “Plastic Surgery Statistics Report 2018”. American Society of Plastic Surgeons. www.plasticsurgery.org
(2) “Breast Augmentation with Autologous Fat Injections”. National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S National Library of Medicine. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4219534/
(3) “What are the Risks of Fat Transfer Breast Augmentation?”. American Society of Plastic Surgeons. www.plasticsurgery.org