Plastic surgery is becoming more popular, and breast augmentation is one of the most common procedures people are getting done. But there’s a variety of different options out there, with everything from saline to “gummy bear” implants on the market nowadays.
But if you’re looking for an arguably more “organic” and less-invasive route, you may want to look into breast augmentation using fat grafting, a technique in which a plastic surgeon uses liposuction to remove fat from elsewhere in your body and relocate it to your breasts. According to the American Society for Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), it’s an “option for women who are looking for a relatively small increase in breast size and would prefer natural results.”
There has been a substantial amount of research on this procedure to date, all with promising results. First, in 2011, a study discussed a fat transfer-based breast augmentation technique that built upon previous ones. Six month post-op evaluation saw that patients’ breasts, on average, had approximately doubled in size, and MRIs showed no abnormalities such as masses or cysts. Next, a 2012 study saw another updated technique that involves patients wearing a “suction-pump bra device”–named the Brava–for a few weeks pre-op to “pre-expand” their breasts, while also creating a “fibrovascular scaffold” for transplanted fat cells to call home. The study showed that the Brava actually helped patients achieve greater breast augmentation. The research team also found no major complications.
Finally, in 2014, a follow-up study on the Brava-involving method saw that the volume of fat cells transferred in breast augmentation procedures could be tripled. However, this depended on a patient’s dedication to wearing the somewhat-cumbersome Brava in the three weeks leading up to their surgery. Additionally, the research team developed a technique of fat cell injection they call “micro-ribboning” that allows them to deposit the cells in close proximity to the blood supply they require to survive.
This all seems good and well, but what are the downsides of using fat transfer in breast augmentation?
Risks in the procedure include:
- fat cell death (aka necrosis)
- the possibility that some of the fat cells will migrate elsewhere
- micro calcification, or tiny salt deposits that can only be detected with imaging
However, it’s most important to weigh your various breast augmentation options with your physician! The option that’s right for you depends on various factors including physical variables and personal preference.