Fat grafting is a relatively new technique which provides an increase in breast volume and an improvement in shape without the need for breast implants, which usually need to be exchanged several times during a patient’s lifetime.
How is fat grafting to the breast performed?
Fat is harvested most commonly from the patient’s abdomen and waist using low-pressure liposuction, and transferred to the breast by re-injection. Very small incisions of around 3-4mm are made and closed with a single fine suture in each.
Once the fat has taken up a new blood supply it will survive in the new site going forward but may vary in volume with changes in body weight.
Not all the fat that is grafted will survive, and usually an excess is grafted beyond what the patient requires to allow for some loss post-operatively.
How much augmentation can be achieved with fat grafting to the breast and how will I know if I’m a suitable candidate?
A 1 to 1 1/2 cup size augmentation is usually possible in each stage – augmentation beyond this may require more than one procedure if enough spare fat is available.
The patient requires sufficient available fat for grafting to achieve the required breast volume – in some very slim patients this volume may not be sufficient and a breast implant will be preferable.
This will be discussed with you at your consultation – your desired breast volume is estimated using implant sizers placed inside a trial bra and viewed in a mirror. This is compared with the estimated available spare fat around your body that could be used; for example, on the abdomen, flanks/ waist and thighs to see that this is of sufficient volume to achieve the desired results.
Can fat grafting to the breast be combined with a breast lift?
The procedure may be combined with a periareolar mastopexy (nipple lift), or be used several months after other types of breast lift (mastopexy) surgery to improve breast shape as well as volume.
What are the advantages of fat grafting to the breast compared to a breast implant?
Fat grafting has the advantages of avoiding the need for implant exchange in later life and it also improves other contours around the body, such as the abdomen, waist and thighs, from where the donor fat is harvested, in addition to improving breast shape and size.
What are the disadvantages of fat grafting to the breast compared to a breast implant?
The relative disadvantages are that it doesn’t guarantee a defined breast volume and shape in one stage that an implant will provide; it may require a second stage in some patients to achieve the desired breast volume. It may also be more costly initially, although it saves the costs of implant exchange in later life.
Generally for those patients wanting a small to moderate augmentation, and who have sufficient spare fat, fat grafting is an excellent technique.
PROCEDURE IN BRIEF:
General Anaesthetic: 2-3hrs
Hospital Stay: One-night stay in hospital, or a day case in some patients
Time Off Work: 7-10 days are required, depending on the type of work
Dressings: Changed and stitches removed at 7-9 days post-op. A Lycra bra and compression garment are worn for 6 weeks to provide support and limit swelling
Results: By 8 weeks the final breast volume should be apparent
Exercise: Sports should usually be avoided for 3-4 weeks
ASSOCIATED BREAST PROCEDURES:
For more information on the Fat Grafting to the Breast procedure, book a consultation with Mr Tulley.