Diet and exercise alone don’t always help you get rid of stubborn areas of fat, like around your abdomen or on your thighs. Liposuction helps you remove such fat pockets, which in itself is pretty awesome. But what if you could also use that fat elsewhere as a filler – say, your breasts? Today’s blog post examines how fat transfer to breast works, how effective it is, and how you can tell whether you’re a good candidate.
When I first heard about it, fat transfer to breast – also called fat grafting to the breast or fat transfer breast augmentation – sounded like the Holy Grail of plastic surgery. What woman, especially a woman who has birthed and breast-fed several children, doesn’t dream of magically squeezing her stomach until it’s completely flat and have the extra volume shoot right up into her cleavage?
Alas, if it sounds too good to be true, it often is. At least partly. While a fat transfer breast augmentation is indeed a viable procedure that women undergo to augment the size and shape of their breasts, there are several things you should know before you sign up for the procedure.
Each Patient Needs Realistic Expectations
At NuBody Concepts, we always strive to inform our patients of what to expect, both about the surgery as well as the outcome. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons and The American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery state on their websites that fat transfer to breast is best for women who seek a modest increase in breast size and whose breasts already have a nice shape and skin tone.
If you fit that description and would prefer natural results over implants, injecting your own fat as a filler is a good option. Fat transfer is a surgical procedure that is less-invasive than the placement of implants or a breast lift. Rather than incisions and sutures to insert the implants, move tissue, and possibly relocate the nipples, the surgeon makes only very small incisions to allow the cannula to be inserted under the skin, both for fat removal and injection.
Fat Transfer As Add-On to Implants
Many women are not going to fit the above profile. More realistically, you might view fat grafting as a great add-on rather than stand-alone surgery. Breast implants will almost always yield more predictable and reliable results than fat transfer.
Let’s say you are getting breast implants. Many women have asymmetric breasts, with one slightly larger than the other. Much of this can be fixed by getting differently-sized implants for each breast (or injecting more or less fluid in the case of saline implants). However, some irregularities might persist even after the placement of implants. In that case, such irregularities can be filled in quite nicely by injecting your own fat to smooth out the contour and shape.
If you have a desire for a flatter stomach and/or hips, meaning you have a readily available source of such fat, a breast augmentation with implants plus fat grafting could be an excellent solution – a mini mommy makeover of sorts, without the tummy tuck. In the experience of our plastic surgeons Dr. Rosdeutscher (Nashville) and Dr. Peters (Memphis), this is the most common usage of fat transfer to breast.
Fat Transfer Cannot Fix Sagging Breasts
But what about those of us who have sagging breasts? Again, if you’ve gone through pregnancy and childbirth and do not have sagging breasts, I’d love to hear your secret. The truth is that sagging breasts, by middle age at the latest, are virtually guaranteed. And the only remedy to fix a sagging breast is a breast lift.
By the way, this is not only an issue with fat transfer patients. Breast implant patients face the same problem: A sagging breast will not look the way you want it to with implants or an injection of fat alone. You’ll need a breast lift, either with or without implants. If you go the route of a lift without implants, an auto-augmentation breast lift is a good option.
Fat Transfer Does Not Yield a Big Increase in Volume
Even if you have a lot of fat that a surgeon can harvest with liposuction, it is only of limited use for fat grafting to the breast. The reason for this is that it is difficult to predict how much of the fat will “take” to its new surroundings. Fat is indeed a great natural filler because it comes from your own body, but even so it does not all convert into volume. Some of it dissipates – maybe not right away, but over time.
If you want bigger breasts beyond a very modest increase in volume and the assurance of permanent change, your best option is a breast augmentation with silicone or saline breast implants.
Are You a Candidate?
In summary, to help you figure out which breast enhancement might work best for you, we’ve created a list of different candidates and the recommended procedure in each case:
Candidate “Perky & Modest:” This woman is generally happy with her breast shape and has good skin tone. She is in her late 20s and hasn’t had children. Her breasts are average sized and she would be happy with a little boost in volume, not too noticeable but a small increase in bra size. Recommendation: Fat transfer to breast.
Candidate “Big & Bold:” A woman who has always had small, irregular-shaped breasts and is ready to change her look. She is seeking a significant increase in size to show off the cleavage she’s never had, she wants better symmetry, and she has a roll of fat around her midsection she’d love to shed. Recommendation: Breast implants plus fat grafting to smooth out possible irregularities.
Candidate “Exasperated Mom:” This woman is in her mid 40s with three teenagers in the house. She has hardly had any time to focus on herself in the last 15 years and would like to do something about her sagging breasts, which could also use a little more volume. Recommendation: Breast lift with implants or auto-augmentation breast lift.
We hope we’ve helped you understand the nature of our fat transfer to breast procedure, and how to determine which breast enhancement is suited best for your needs. Please contact us today to schedule a consultation with our plastic surgeon to evaluate your options in more detail!