If you’re unsatisfied with the size of your breasts post-pregnancy and would like to enhance your chest without receiving implants, you’re not alone. Many women would like to increase the size of their breasts but are hesitant to go as far as implants. The good news, there is an alternative option known as fat transfer breast augmentation (or autologous augmentation by fat transfer as its technical name is known).
If you’re just now hearing of fat transfer breast augmentation or have recently begun considering the procedure but want to learn more, you’ve come to the right place.
Keep reading for a comprehensive overview of fat transfer breast augmentation, the pros and cons you need to consider, average costs, and more.
What Is Fat Transfer Breast Augmentation?
Fat transfer breast augmentation involves the use of your own fat to enhance your breast size rather than implants. Fat is liposuctioned from a chosen harvest area on your body containing excess fat, then injected into your breasts.
Harvest regions containing excess fat are typically areas like the tummy, love handles, and thighs. The procedure is sometimes erroneously referred to as stem cell breast augmentation, however, this is not wholly accurate.
The fat taken out via liposuction does contain stem cells. For reference, a stem cell is a type of cell that can form into a variety of tissue types depending on where it is put in your body. However, you cannot inject just stem cells into the breast tissue in order to increase the size, as stem cells must be coupled with fat for the procedure to have any efficacy.
Who should consider fat transfer breast augmentation?
If you would like to increase your breast size by a moderate amount, such as a half to one full cup size and do not want to get implants, a fat transfer breast augmentation might be the solution for you. However, if you are interested in having more than one cup increase in breast size, implants may be the more dependable solution.
A fat transfer augmentation can enhance your breast size in smaller increments, but it does not necessarily lift the breasts or add a new shape to them. In some cases, a patient may opt to combine a fat transfer augmentation with implants to achieve better contours and heightened volume.
Pros and Cons of Fat Transfer Breast Augmentation
As with any type of cosmetic procedure, there are pros and cons to consider before opting for surgery. Let’s dive into the pros first.
The first pro of fat transfer breast augmentation is that it is 100% natural. The procedure involves taking autologous fat and liposuctioning it from regions of the body with excess fat. The fat is then injected into the patient’s breast to achieve the desired augmentation. Provided the fat heals properly, your breasts will appear and feel completely normal.
Additionally, fat transfer breast augmentations require only very small incisions just 4 millimeters in length to liposuction the fat and inject it into the breasts. Because the incisions are so small, fat transfer breast augmentation leaves almost no scars, which is a huge plus.
Even though the procedure doesn’t involve implants, fat transfers still have the potential to vastly contour and reshape your body. The process of harvesting fat to be injected into the breasts through liposuction can reshape certain “problem areas” that might have been causing you grief.
Besides an enhanced cup size, this also means that you could potentially have thinner thighs, a more taut tummy, and a more defined waist than you did before the procedure.
While many patients respond to procedures like implants with success, another significant pro with fat transfer breast augmentation is that you avoid the risks implants can carry altogether. So, complications like a ruptured implant, wrong positioning, and contracture are all issues you can completely circumvent if you opt for a fat transfer breast augmentation instead
A Few Drawbacks
With that said, that are also some cons to bear in mind if you are considering this procedure. First of all, you have to understand that fat transfer breast augmentation only allows for a limited increase in cup size. The largest increase you can expect is one cup size, whereas surgery involving breast implants can increase your breasts by one to three or sometimes more cup sizes.
Another component to understand with fat transfer breast augmentation is that sometimes the body reabsorbs the transferred fat. Skilled cosmetic surgeons do everything they can to ensure the transferred fat survives in the surgical region. Sometimes, however, the body will reabsorb the fat, which can reduce the size of your preferred enhancement and potentially necessitate additional procedures to correct.
Another important con to consider is that fat transfer breast augmentation will not lift your breasts. The procedure is not designed to lift up sagging or drooping breasts after pregnancy; rather it serves to moderately increase breast volume and contour the body to a more desirable shape.
Finally, while fat transfer breast augmentations are less invasive than implants, they essentially involve two separate procedures—liposuctioning the fat and augmenting the breasts. As such, they are typically way more expensive than getting implants. In total, the average fat transfer costs approximately $5,000 to $10,000 more than getting implants would.
Cost of Fat Transfer Breast Augmentation
When examining the potential costs of fat transfer breast augmentation, it’s important to realize that there are a variety of factors that go into the cost projection. The size of the enhancement, the experience and expertise of the doctor, and the geographic location of their office are all components that can affect the final amount.
The average cost for fat transfer breast augmentation is around $6,500. What this means, is that some cosmetic surgeons will charge more than this amount, while others could charge significantly higher.
When considering the heightened costs associated with fat transfer breast augmentation as compared to implants, it is important to note that in some cases, half or more of the grafted fat could be reabsorbed by your body. If this occurs, it may be necessary to undergo additional surgeries to reach your desired size through fat transfer.
What to Expect During Fat Transfer Breast Augmentation
Like most breast augmentation procedures, these are outpatient surgeries performed under general anesthesia. The duration of the procedure is based on the amount of fat to be removed and the number of harvest sites. Local anesthesia and intravenous sedation may also be used.
The first part of the fat transfer breast augmentation procedure involves the harvesting of fat from the chosen removal site. The harvest site could be your thighs, love handles, tummy, or another area where there is excess fatty tissue.
Once you have spoken with your surgeon and chosen the site for the fat to be harvested from, the doctor will make a tiny incision and insert a cannula tube with a syringe to liposuction out the fat.
After sufficient fat is liposuctioned from the harvest region, the fat is processed and purified to prepare it for transfer to smaller syringes the doctor will use to inject into your breasts. To purify the liposuctioned fat, the surgeon’s staff will use a centrifuge to spin the fat and rid it of impurities.
Once the fat is purified, the final step of the fat transfer breast augmentation is to place the fat into the breast. The area of the breast where the graft will be placed is prepped and anesthetized. The surgeon will then insert a cannula tub or needle into the incision at the injection site. The needle is typically inserted in and out of the augmentation region multiple times.
Each time the needle passes in or out of the tissue, fatty tissue globules integrate into the natural tissue of your breasts. The surgeon repeats the injections until the desired augmentation has been made. The final result is a grid of natural breast tissue and grafted fatty tissue.
Recovering from Fat Transfer Breast Augmentation
Whereas getting breast implants only require you to recover from a single procedure, the fact that a fat transfer breast augmentation is like getting two procedures at once can mean a longer recovery time. The liposuction procedure is pretty moderate and generally tolerated well by patients.
You should expect bruising and swelling for around one to two weeks following your fat transfer breast augmentation, but it could take up to three to six months to feel completely back to normal. The quantity of fat harvested has a direct impact on your recovery. More harvested fat means more bruising and swelling.
It is possible to reduce the bruising and swelling in the harvest region or regions by wearing a compression post-surgical garment as your doctor instructs or provides. Lymphatic massage can also help promote proper healing.
You should expect to take a week off from your work or school. It is usually possible to start exercising again about one week out from your fat transfer breast augmentation.
Your breast recovery will also involve bruising and swelling, which can take anywhere from 6 to 12 weeks to return to normal depending on the quantity of fat you had transferred. Discomfort following the procedure is typically more moderate when compared to the pain following breast implants.
The pain medications prescribed by your surgeon will help ease your discomfort in the first few days after surgery, while Tylenol will usually suffice in the period following. Some surgeons opt to inject Exparel liposomal bupivacaine during the procedure, which can eliminate the necessity of painkillers completely.
Fat transfer breast augmentation can be a viable, successful option to enhance the size of your breasts by a moderate amount without the use of implants. The final results will ultimately depend on your individual fat cells and the quantity of fat transferred.