Fat Transfer Breast Augmentation Ann Arbor, MI
Have you been considering breast augmentation but don’t like the idea of having breast implants? Or maybe you just wish you filled out that dress a little bit more? Breast augmentation with fat transfer (natural breast augmentation) may be a good option for you. While implants are still used very commonly, this is an increasingly popular procedure that uses your own fat to increase the size of your breasts.
Dr. Lapaine at Ann Arbor Plastic Surgery specializes in fat transfer procedures, including fat transfer to the breasts. This is one of the most common procedures he performs. If it’s something you’ve been thinking about, or want to know if you’re a candidate, give us a call to schedule your consultation!
Fat Transfer to the Breast
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What is Breast Fat Transfer?
Breast augmentation fat transfer is a natural breast augmentation without the use of any foreign devices. Liposuction is performed to areas of stubborn fat. Mostly commonly this includes the abdomen and flanks, but this depends completely on your body and what areas bother you. The fat that is removed is then purified and then injected to the breast using a small incision. This increases the breast volume with no implants!
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Who is a Good Candidate for Fat Transfer to the Breasts?
The ideal candidate is in good health, has stubborn fat elsewhere in their body, and is looking for a subtle increase in the volume of their breasts. Generally, we recommend this surgery for those look for a natural appearance and who are looking to be up to one cup larger in breast volume. It can also be combined with a breast lift for those that want a lifted appearance and a slight increase in volume. Smokers are not candidates for this surgery.
What is the Difference Between Breast Implants and Fat?
Implants are the most common way that breast augmentation has traditionally been done. They are a device that has a silicone shell that that is most commonly filled with a silicone gel but can also be filled with saline. Because they are a solid device, they provide a predictable increase in volume and help to provide a rounder, more define shape to the breast. They are ideal for someone looking to increase in size by more than a cup size or for anyone looking for a more defined cleavage area or breast shape. However, they do have numerous complications that can be associated with them, such as capsular contracture, rupture, malposition (moving of the implant, typically downward and outward), among other rare complications. The FDA recommends imaging of silicone implants to assess for a silent rupture.
For these reasons, many women are looking an alternative way to boost breast volume. This is where fat transfer can be an ideal solution. Fat is a natural part of your body so rather than placing a foreign device in the breast, your own natural fat is removed from other areas of the body via liposuction, purified, then injected to the breast. Once the fat takes, it becomes a natural part of your body, as it was before, and it will gain and lose weight along with the rest of the body.
There are downsides to fat that are important to be aware of:
- Firstly, there is a limit to how much fat can be transferred at one time. During liposuction, we are removing fat cells from their normal blood supply. When we inject the fat into the breast, it does not have a blood supply at first, so new blood vessels must grow into these fat cells for them to survive. For this reason, if too much fat is injected at one time, it overwhelms the blood supply of the breast, and you can risk nodules called fat necrosis or oil cysts in the breasts.
- Also, not all the fat cells transferred will survive, and typically 60-70% of the fat cells will survive though this can vary slightly. It can therefore be less predictable than an implant in terms of the volume achieved.
For those looking for a larger increase in breast size, an implant may be a better option. If you are looking to avoid an implant but want a substantial increase in size, then more than one fat transfer procedure may be required to achieve your goals.
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What are the Downsides of Breast Fat Transfer?
The biggest downside with fat transfer is that there is a limit to the increase of breast volume that can be achieved in one surgery. This is because there is a limited blood supply for the new fat cells and that 30-40% of the transferred fat will not survive. There are also complications such as fat necrosis (which feel like nodules in the breast), oil cysts, and infection that can occur. Also, because liposuction is being done at the same time (which can be a bonus for many patients!), it can be a slightly longer recovery than a breast augmentation with implants, that typically involve a very short recovery time.
What is Fat Transfer Recovery Like?
Recovery is typically 1-2 weeks. Patients will typically feel fairly good after 1 week. For less active jobs, patients may return to work at this point, if they are no longer taking opioid pain medication. For more physical active jobs, 2 weeks is the recommended downtime. After the procedure, it is normal to have swelling and bruising. The bruising is typically resolved by 2 weeks. The swelling improves rapidly in the first month but can take months to fully resolve. To help with swelling, patients must wear a compression garment for 1-2 months. Some patients choose to wear it longer as they find the support helpful. Patients are encouraged to walk regularly immediately after surgery. They should avoid strenuous lifting or exercise for 2 weeks. They may then begin light exercise and 2 weeks and can return to full activity at 1 month after surgery.
Will I Need More Than One Fat Transfer Procedure?
The need for a second procedure depends on your goals. If you are looking to increase size but up to a cup size, you may be able to achieve that in one surgery. If you are looking for a larger increase in volume, then additional procedures may be required to achieve your goals.
How Long Does Breast Fat Transfer Last?
Breast fat transfer should be a permanent change to breast volume. However, the fat will react like the fat in the rest of your body. If you gain weight, then the breasts should increase in size and if you lose weight, they will decrease in size. Changes in body composition are normal as the body ages so this can affect the breasts as well.
Does Fat Transfer Increase My Risk of Breast Cancer?
No, there is no evidence that breast fat transfer increases the risk of breast cancer. However, the fat transfer procedure can increase the likelihood of a suspicious area on mammogram. Therefore, although it does not increase your risk of breast cancer, it can potentially increase your risk of having a biopsy in the future.
I Have Breast Implants and Would Like to Have them Removed. Can I Replace Them with Fat?
Yes, this is a common request from patients and can certainly be done! Whether patients have had their implants for a while, or are starting to experience problems with them, many patients no want to have breast implants but still want to maintain some volume, so fat transfer can be a great option to replace this volume. However, in most cases, especially with larger implants, fat will not be able to replace all the volume of the implants, for the reasons listed above. It is always possible to do additional fat transfer procedures if more volume is desired.
Learn More About Fat Transfer Breast Augmentation at Ann Arbor Plastic Surgery
Breast Augmentation With Fat Grafting: Frequently Asked Questions
Many variables affect the cost of a surgical procedure. To ensure you receive accurate pricing, our team will provide a detailed quote for your fat grafting procedure when you come in for your consultation.
Fat grafting and breast implants are excellent ways to enhance your breast appearance. Work with your surgeon to determine which procedure will best meet your needs. Fat grafting is ideal for women who want to enhance their breast size and shape without implants. Breast implants can add significantly more volume to the breasts than fat and are ideal for women who want to dramatically alter their breast size. Implants are also more predictable in terms of the final volume. However, implants are foreign devices that can develop complications down the road. Fat is your own natural tissue that will continue to be a part of you throughout your life.
Yes! For some patients this can be an ideal solution. This can allow a smaller implant that adds volume and projection, and then fat can be used to provide additional shaping and cleavage. Patients that have constricted or tuberous breasts, widely spaced breasts, or asymmetries are often ideal candidates for this surgery, but really almost anyone can be a good candidate! Come discuss with one of our plastic surgeons to see if it is the right option for you.
Fat grafting creates a long-lasting improvement in breast size and shape. Though not all the transferred fat cells will survive in their new location, most of the fat that remains six months after surgery will stay in the breast area long-term. Our surgeons typically inject extra fat into the breasts in anticipation of fat loss.
Fat grafting is very safe when performed by a skilled plastic surgeon in an accredited operating facility. Our surgeons use the latest equipment and techniques to ensure the highest levels of safety and results
Fat grafting does not typically affect nipple sensation. Occasionally there may be temporary changes to sensation, but this will return to normal within a few weeks of surgery.