Plastic Surgery Blog
When you’re thinking about having any kind of surgery, a really good way of deciding whether a procedure is right for you, besides consulting with your surgeon (of course!), is by coming up with a list of pros and cons. And while there are pros and cons to pretty much every kind of surgery, depending on your perspective and what you want out of the surgery, sometimes the cons become pros and the pros become cons. It really depends on your individual priorities.
Breast Augmentation with fat transfer is a perfect example of a surgery where some of the pros and cons can become interchangeable. This surgery is considered to be one of the lower risk procedures when it comes to operations overall, so there aren’t that many cons to the procedure. But it’s still a surgery that needs to meet the expectations of the patient, so making sure you’re a good candidate is essential.
Otherwise known as a natural breast augmentation or a fat grafting procedure, this surgery does not use implants in order to increase the size of the breast. Instead it uses the patient’s own fat, harvested from other areas of the body, like the abdomen, thighs, flanks or even back, that is then reinjected into the breasts.
It’s true also that this is a technique that can be used in combination with breast implants that your surgeon might suggest if it will help achieve a specific result, especially for patients looking to increase cleavage. But today, for comparison’s sake, we’re taking a detailed look at fat transfer alone for increasing volume in the breasts.
With this surgery, we’re going to consider this a pro in the most general terms, but keep in mind that depending on your goals, it may not be in this column for you.
So why is this generally a pro for a lot of patients? Mostly because breast augmentation with fat transfer is considered to be a natural augmentation of the breasts since it doesn’t use implants. We’ll get into more details about why this is a plus for a lot of patients, but basically, no implants means no scarring, fewer risks, and the most natural result possible. So if those aspects are more your style, then a surgery without implants is definitely in your pro column.
Because all we’re doing with this procedure is retrieving and harvesting fat from one area of the body and injecting it into the breasts, there is very minimal scarring associated with it. There are only very small incisions made in the area where liposuction will take place, and the points of injection to the breasts. With breast implants, you will always need an incision through which your surgeon can insert the implant.
Our doctors have incredible techniques to keep implant incisions as small, hidden and invisible as possible (including placing them in the armpit!) but nevertheless, the incisions used in fat transfer are remarkably small by comparison.
This is the distinct advantage of fat grafting. You can think of the breast augmentation with fat transfer as a kind of 2 for 1 deal. Not only are you getting a breast augmentation, but you’re also getting a body contouring procedure—we’re talking liposuction—which will not only remove pockets of unwanted fat from another area of the body, but will also contour and sculpt the area resulting in more of an hourglass silhouette. Especially when we take fat from the tummy area, this waist-cinching effect can help amplify the proportions of your result.
You can’t beat the natural result that this procedure can achieve. Because it’s your own fat, your breasts will look and feel super natural, just like your breasts before, only with an increase in size. This is definitely a pro if you want the option to keep your surgery a total secret, since there’s really no way to tell what has given you the boost in shape.
The breast augmentation with fat transfer typically has a shorter recovery time than a breast augmentation with implants. You’ll still need to take it easy, but because the procedure is less invasive than most other breast surgeries, your body tends to heal faster.
Because there is nothing foreign or unfamiliar to your body being inserted into your breasts, the risk of complications is also lower with a breast augmentation with fat transfer. You don’t risk things like an allergic reaction or capsular contracture with a natural breast augmentation, reducing the overall risks of the procedure.
The one tricky thing with breast augmentation with fat transfer is fat survival. Only about 50-60% of the fat that’s transferred to the breasts actually survives. Our surgeons always take this into account of course, but it still means that we can only really guarantee an approximate size for your final result.
The fact that only about 50-60% of the fat transferred survives also brings about a slightly higher risk of asymmetries. It’s rare, but it is possible that more or less fat survives in one breast than the other, leading to variations in size between the breasts.
This procedure only has the capability to increase your breasts about a half to full bra cup size, so if you’re looking for a larger increase in size then you may want to look into a breast augmentation with implants.
This can be a pro or a con, but you may or may not be happy with your final size. Again, because we can’t guarantee how much fat will survive, you may end up with a smaller size than you would have otherwise wanted. Some patients actually prefer a smaller increase in size as it’s a more subtle and natural transformation, so for some this can be viewed as an advantage to the procedure.
This is a great surgery for women who are looking for a moderate increase in breast size and that already have a good breast shape, minimal asymmetries, and good skin elasticity. You also need to have pockets of unwanted fat in other areas of the body that can be harvested for the fat transfer. If you have heavy breasts that sag, or if you have excess skin, or asymmetries between your breasts, or not enough fat to harvest, we’ll probably recommend an alternative breast procedure.