- Fat transfer breast augmentation is for women who have no history of breast cancer, desire to only go up 1 to 2 cup sizes, feel a natural option is best, and who have enough fat to extract.
- You can resume full activity in about 6 weeks, and it is at this point final results should be apparent.
- Expect at least 30 percent volume loss over time, and it may take 4 to 6 sessions to get desired results.
Liposuction fat from troubled areas like the tummy, thighs, and love handles. Inject it into your breasts. Walk out of your surgeon's office a cup size or two bigger.
This is fat transfer breast augmentation, and more than 20,000 women are doing it annually to increase their busts without surgery.
If you're looking to go up slightly in breast size and prefer natural breast augmentation, you may be a candidate. Consulting with a board-certified plastic surgeon helps to understand whether the procedure is right for you, or if you're better suited for something else.
How does fat transfer breast augmentation work?
Fat transfer breast augmentation is a multi-step outpatient procedure that takes 4 to 5 hours to complete.
Once a donor site has been chosen, it is injected with a solution of lidocaine (anesthetic) to ease pain, epinephrine to reduce blood loss, and IV salt solution to hydrate the fat cells. The combined mixture also causes the area to swell and stiffen, making it easier for the thin liposuction tube (cannula) to break down fat and extract it out.
The removed fat is harvested and purified using a filtration system to rid blood, oil, and the solution. Young, healthy cells left behind are inserted directly into the breasts with an injector.
The ideal candidate for fat transfer breast augmentation
The ideal candidate for fat transfer augmentation is a woman with:
- Good general health
- No family history of breast cancer (injected fat may cause latent breast cancer cells to grow)
- Enough fat to take (BMI should be 18.5 or more; at least 1,000 milliliters of pure fat is required)
- A desire to increase breast size by 1 to 2 cups, at best
Fat transfer breast augmentation pros and cons
- All-natural. The procedure uses your body's own fat.
- Body contouring. Fat is taken from problem areas, leaving them flatter, slimmer, and more sculpted.
- No implants. Avoids the risk of implant-related complications like rupture, malposition, rippling, and capsular contracture.
- Natural-looking results. Fat cells are living cells that when combined with the breasts make them look and feel natural. Proteins produced by the fat may also help skin pliability and texture.
- Minimal scarring. Punctures made in the skin are about the size of a No. 2 pencil lead.
- May require you to wear a tissue expansion system for 10 to 12 hours a day. To make space for the fat and to improve its chance of surviving after the transfer, some surgeons have patients use the BRAVA system. BRAVA is a suction device with domes that are placed over the breasts to expand them and increase blood circulation. The cups are worn for 3 to 6 weeks leading up to the procedure and for 3 months after.
- Size limitations. Typical breast enlargement with fat transfer augmentation is 1 cup size, though there are times where enhancement can reach 2 cups.
- No long-term fat survival. Thirty percent or more of what is injected gets absorbed over time.
- No lifting of the breasts. The breasts will not be lifted but may appear perkier in cases where there is minor sag. Moderate to severely sagging breasts see no improvement without breast lift surgery.
Fat transfer breast augmentation risks
The risk for breast-related complications is low, especially when the procedure is performed by a trained plastic surgeon. They include:
- Fat death (necrosis) resulting in pain and bleeding, skin discoloration, fever, numbness, infected sores, lumps in the breasts
- Calcifications (hard deposits)
- Oil cysts
- Abnormal contours or asymmetry
Lumps associated with fat transfer breast augmentation are generally harmless but may spark alarm during monthly self-breast exams and result in unnecessary biopsies if mistaken as cancerous lesions on imagining studies.
Fat transfer breast augmentation recovery
Pain in the breast area is usually minimal and passes in the first few days, with most women returning to light work after 1 week. Expect to swell and bruise in the treatment areas for about 2 weeks and to resume full activities within 4 to 6 weeks.
Fat transfer breast augmentation results
Final results take up to 6 weeks to become apparent; however, immediately after the procedure, you notice an enhancement in shape and size.
Expect to lose 30 percent or more breast volume over time as the fat becomes absorbed by the body. Weight loss and having the procedure performed without the BRAVA tissue expansion system can expedite this.
Since the initial procedure is likely only to take you up about 1 cup size, you may require 4 to 6 individual sessions to get desired results. The fat transfer procedure does not replace a breast lift. If you have droopy breasts, they will continue to droop afterward.
Fat transfer breast augmentation vs implants
Fat transfer offers a limited size increase, less volume to specific areas of the breast, little shaping, as well as decreased projection and upper pole fullness when compared to breast implants.
Should you lose weight or have hormonal changes, breast implant size remains the same as opposed to fat from transfer, which is lost.
Additionally, fat transferred to the breasts gets absorbed by the body over time and usually requires several procedures to achieve results, whereas breast augmentation is one procedure and implants can last for up to 10 years provided there are no complications.
Fat transfer breast augmentation cost
The cost of fat transfer breast augmentation ranges from about $2,000 to $8,000 depending on the liposuctioned area, whether the BRAVA system is used, and your surgeon's fees. Surgeon fees vary widely based on skill and geographic location.
A breast augmentation, in comparison, boasts national averages of about $6,525.
Consult a plastic surgeon about fat transfer breast augmentation
If you think you're a candidate for the procedure and are committed to natural breast augmentation, contact a board-certified plastic surgeon to set up a consultation.
After examination and a discussion of your goals, they will explain the procedure and its risks thoroughly as well as detail whether this is the best option.
American Society of Plastic Surgeons. (2018). 2018 Plastic Surgery Statistics Report. ASPS National Clearinghouse of Plastic Surgery Procedural Statistics. Retrieved from https://www.plasticsurgery.org/documents/News/Statistics/2018/plastic-surgery-statistics-full-report-2018.pdf
American Society of Plastic Surgeons. (2018). What is Fat Transfer Breast Augmentation? Retrieved from https://www.plasticsurgery.org/cosmetic-procedures/fat-transfer-breast-augmentation
Harper's BAZAAR. (2018). This Is What Happens When You Transfer Fat to Breasts. YouTube. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TGLE249hdqI
American Society of Plastic Surgeons. (2018). What does the process of fat transfer breast augmentation look like? Retrieved from https://www.plasticsurgery.org/cosmetic-procedures/fat-transfer-breast-augmentation/animation
American Society of Plastic Surgeons. (2018). What are the Risks of Fat Transfer Breast Augmentation? Retrieved from https://www.plasticsurgery.org/cosmetic-procedures/fat-transfer-breast-augmentation/safety
Gold G. (2017). 5 Things You Need To Know About ‘Natural’ Plastic Surgery. Women's Health. Retrieved from https://www.womenshealthmag.com/beauty/a19962702/fat-transfer-cost/