Everything You Need to Know About Fat Transfer Breast Augmentation

Authored By Lisa Cassileth MD, FACS

woman in pink bra posing

It’s all about the technique.

The technique used during fat transfer surgery is crucial for a successful outcome. When performing fat transfer to the breasts or any area on the body, we aren’t just injecting it as one giant blob into the site. The plastic surgeon places the fat in tiny passes, like sowing seeds into a field. This way, every living fat cell from another spot in your body now receives good blood flow and survives in the new area. If we don’t place it correctly and simply dump the fat, the cells won’t survive, and thus, the results aren’t going to last.

From a technical standpoint, fat grafting is relatively challenging. After harvesting fat through liposuction, usually performed on areas of the body such as the abdomen, buttocks, or thighs, we make a small incision on the breast and insert a very, very fine cannula. We then make hundreds of passes, dropping off the fat in the shape of the spokes of a wheel, all around the breast. This way, we successfully build the entire field in multiple layers. All of these passes end up gradually growing the breast instead of treating it like a dumping ground.

Not all fat is created equal.

A common misconception about fat transfer is that you must or should gain weight before surgery. Many patients come to me and say, “Oh, I put on extra weight just for you!” It would be best if you didn’t put on extra weight as it will not help the surgeon or give you better results!  A critical component of a successful breast fat transfer is that we need to use the purist fat cells. I don’t want to harvest fat cells that just got there because you intentional gained weight by eating poorly right before your procedure. I need the real, core, healthy fat, which will allow you to get more out of the transferred cells, which will bulk up after surgery.

Expect a reasonably easy post-op recovery.

Recovery after fat transfer breast augmentation is pretty straightforward. First of all, we provide all patients with post-operative concierge care. This means you’ll have an incredible nurse who will regularly check in on you in the weeks after your surgery or who you can contact directly at any time with questions or concerns. When you first wake up, you can expect to be sore in the areas where the fat was harvested. However, most patients find the pain to be fairly mild. You’ll also be wearing a compression garment. It’s a liposuction-like garment, similar to Spanx or shapewear, that is tight and compresses the area. You’re going to wear that garment for the first week. 

You’ll be sorest for the first two or three days after you get up in the morning. You’ll take over-the-counter pain medications, like Tylenol or Advil, but will find you can walk around very comfortably within the first few days after surgery. The area where the fat is placed will be bruised, but the bruise goes away very quickly. That area usually doesn’t hurt at all post-operatively. You will likely see swelling in the grafted area, but that will go down to the expected size of the amount of transferred fat. In the area where the liposuction was performed, some patients notice that they look thinner from the get-go. You’ll see the final thinning out of the area three months after the procedure.

Is fat transfer breast augmentation right for you?

Fat transfer is a wonderful option for those who want breast enhancement without breast implants, results that look and feel natural, almost no scarring, and minimal downtime. It’s ideal for anyone who wants to increase their breast size by one cup size as well as to restore volume or improve breast symmetry after breastfeeding, weight loss, or pregnancy. 

Cassileth Plastic Surgery & Skin Care

Contact Cassileth Plastic Surgery to learn more about anything you see in our blog. Send a message online to arrange a consultation, or call (310) 278-8200.

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