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Pros and Cons of Fat Transfer Breast Augmentation

Breast augmentation surgery has been around for many years and is still one of the top cosmetic procedures requested today. Women have a plethora of choices these days for breast enhancement. There are different shapes, sizes, and materials available for implants or an option for a fat transfer breast augmentation. Some women desire larger breasts but they are concerned about the risks associated with implants or perhaps are not candidates for implants. Fat transfer augmentation is a procedure that can enlarge breasts without implants. This article will address some of the fat transfer to breast pros and cons for your consideration.

How Does Fat Transfer Breast Augmentation Work?

Fat transfer breast enhancement is a surgical procedure, normally performed under general anesthesia, that involves removing fat from other places on your body and using it to reshape and enlarge your breasts. Most often, the fat to be transferred is taken from problem areas on your body so you are actually getting two procedures done at the same time.

Most patients choose to obtain excess fat from their back, abdomen, arms, and thighs which leaves these areas slimmer and more contoured. Using advanced liposuction techniques, fat is removed from the predetermined areas and then sterilized to remove any impurities or excess liquids. Finally, using a targeted approach, the sterilized fat is injected into the breasts to achieve the desired shape, size, and volume.

Knowing the pros and cons of fat transfer breast augmentation may help you determine if this procedure may be right for you.

Upside or Pros of Fat Transfer Breast Augmentation

  • Natural look – It’s done with your own excess fat and your breasts look and feel completely natural.
  • Complimentary liposuction – Your “problem” areas are the source of fat leaving you more proportionate, slimmer, and contoured, and your breasts are enhanced. Twice the benefits on the same day.
  • Minimal scarring will occur as a result of the fat transfer procedure, the fat is injected into your breasts through very tiny incisions which leave virtually no scarring.
  • No risks of implants – There are no concerns regarding implant complications, ruptures, calcification around the implants, or rejection of “foreign material”.
  • Permanent results – Once transferred fat cells become fully grafted into the breasts, they are permanent.
  • Shorter recovery and no hospital stay – Fat transfer breast augmentation is normally an outpatient procedure and does not require a hospital stay.

Fat Transfer Breast Augmentation 1

Potential Downsides or Cons of Breast Fat Transfer

  • Limited augmentation – The breasts can be enhanced by only 1 or 1 ½ cup sizes. If you desire fuller breasts, implants are going to work better for you.
  • Enough fat to transfer – To be a candidate you must have enough excess fat to remove and use for the procedure. If you are very slim, this will probably not work for you.
  • Hard-to-predict results – Not all the fat injected will attach and live, some fat will be reabsorbed by your body so the initial result you see will change and may result in smaller breast volume than desired. Sometimes a second procedure is needed.
  • Impairing cancer screening – If some of the fat does not attach and become part of the breast, it is naturally flushed out of your body. Any remaining dead fat cells can create calcifications or oil cysts that are permanent. Calcifications or oil cysts make cancer screening results harder to read as breast cancer and calcifications look very much alike.
  • Limited effect – This procedure does not lift breasts or prevent sagging that can result from aging, pregnancy, genetics, or weight loss.
  • Costly – The combination of the two procedures makes the cost of fat transfer breast augmentation more expensive than implants.
  • No way back – Fat transfer is permanent while implants can be taken out if a problem arises.

Breast Implants vs Fat Transfer

Once you have decided to undergo a breast augmentation you need to make a few more decisions before the transformation of your breasts can happen. The first thing you will need to decide and discuss with the cosmetic surgeon is the results you are looking for. The surgeon will then give you the options that will best achieve your desired results. Your options may include:

  • Breast implants vs fat transfer
  • The size breasts you desire
  • Choose the size implants if applicable
  • How you want your breasts to feel
  • Silicone or Saline if applicable
  • How much you are willing to spend
  • Scars vs scarless
  • Surgery vs Non-surgical procedure
  • You may consider a breast implant with fat transfer (a combination of both).

Which Is Better Fat Transfer Or Implants?

There are pros and cons of both fat transfer breast augmentation and breast implants. Comparing the two breast augmentation techniques (breast fat transfer vs implants) may help you decide whether breast implants or fat transfer is the better option for you.

Breast Implants vs Fat Transfer Comparison Chart

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to see the entire table

Comparison Criteria Breast Implants Breast Fat Transfer
Increase in Breast Size No limit, breasts can be made significantly larger Limited to minimal increase in size but not usually more than 1 ½ cup sizes
Feel Can feel natural or a bit harder depending on silicone vs saline and how the implants are placed Feels very natural
Shape and look Consistent and fairly predictable Not entirely predictable as not all fat that is transferred will successfully graft. Results can be asymmetrical or may require more than one procedure to obtain desired results.
Scars Will result in scarring although some will be hidden. Scars can be located around the areola, under the breast in the natural fold line, or the armpit Very little risk of visible scarring since there are no incisions
Maintenance Breast implants require MRI scans every 2 years to ensure there are no leaks. Also, implants need to be replaced about every 10 years when the risk of rupture begins to escalate. No maintenance is required. Once the fat permanently grafts to your body it responds just like any other fat cells would.
Sedation The procedure is performed under general anesthesia The procedure can be performed with local anesthesia
Complications
  • Breast implant illness
  • Capsular contracture
  • Rupture (rare)
  • Infection
  • Rejection of foreign body
  • Calcifications or cysts
  • Failure of fat to graft
Noteworthy benefits
  • A significant increase in breast size can be achieved.
  • Only one procedure is needed so it is a faster process.
  • No risk of rejection because nothing foreign is being installed.
  • Less risk of infection.
  • Patients receive the benefit of body contouring during liposuction as well as breast augmentation.
Cost Implants are usually less expensive than a breast fat transfer procedure. Breast fat transfer requires two procedures: liposuction and fat transfer so it is normally more expensive than breast implants.
Cancer screening challenges Implants often make it difficult to get readings on mammograms and instances of breast cancer may be missed. Some of the fat that is transferred may die and calcify rather than be absorbed back into the body. These calcified areas can look very similar to breast cancer and make the results of a mammogram confusing. Some skilled technicians can differentiate between the two conditions but others may not be able to. This may result in cancer scares, multiple mammograms, or biopsies.

When making a decision about your body that will be permanent, it is important to consider and understand all potential short and long-term results. Educating yourself on the fat transfer breast augmentation pros and cons will help you know what questions to ask during your initial consultation. This way you can make an educated and informed decision about your desired aesthetics and the procedure that is right for you.

If you would like to learn more about breast augmentation through fat transfer, we would welcome the opportunity to consult with you on a plan to achieve your aesthetic goals. Please schedule a consultation today with Dr. Angelina to discuss if fat transfer breast augmentation surgery is right for you.

Angelina Postoev, MD, FACS, a triple board-certified cosmetic surgeon, and Christopher Ibikunle, MD, FACS, offer fat transfer breast augmentation to women in Lawrenceville, Suwanee, Johns Creek, and the surrounding areas of Atlanta, Georgia. To learn more, contact us today to schedule a personal consultation.

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