Fat grafting to the breast is using fat from areas where fat is not desired, such as the abdomen, hips, outer thighs; less commonly, inner thighs, inner knee and arms and transferring these fat grafts and cells to the breast for a natural, autogenous breast augmentation effect, also known as Natural Breast Augmentation.
Fat grafting to the breast can be performed alone, to increase the upper pole and lower pole of the breast by half a cup size to three-quarters of a cup size; or, is commonly performed at the time of breast augment surgery to enhance upper-pole fullness with natural fat grafts while the breast augmentation itself helps fill out and project the lower pole of the breast.
The donor site for the fat is prepped and draped in a sterile fashion and local anesthesia is instilled into the region. Once the local anesthetic is instilled, the Vaser Lipo device is deployed and a tiny probe that emits ultrasound wave is inserted into the selected donor fat areas.
The Vaser probes emits gentle ultrasound waves that loosen the fat cells, that are normally bound tightly in fibrous tissue, thus preparing them for a gentle, a-traumatic aspiration and extraction process.
Once harvested, the fat cells are transferred in a sterile fashion to a refinement process that often includes centrifugation or spinning the fat done and removing the unwanted elements of the fat graft material including unwanted blood, serum and local anesthesia. Other forms of preparation, such as washing the fat tissue or segmentation and separation of stem cells and non-stem cell segments can also be performed.
Following the preparation phase, the purified fat and stem cell segments are then placed into small injection syringes in preparation for injection into the recipient area or the area to be grafted.
By taking fat from unwanted fatty areas and transplanting the fat to areas where fat is required, one can improve the contour in one area (the donor site) and add volume and shape to an area where fat is deficient (the recipient site).
Common donor sites for fat grafting include the abdomen, hips, outer thigh. Less common sites include the inner thigh, inner knee and arm. In general, there is too little fat under the chin and submentum to provide any significant donor material.
The procedure is relatively simple. The area where the fat is to be harvested is prepped and draped in a sterile fashion and usually the procedure is performed under local anesthesia. A small harvest needle is used to gently move back and forth the anesthetized fat donor material, harvesting fat cells.
The harvesting process and technique will depend upon the area and size of the area to be grafted or transplanted.
Risks and Complications
The most common side effects of fat grafting and fat transplantation to the breasts are swelling and bruising. In general, the swelling and bruising can be significant and 3-4 weeks should be allotted for recovery.
Taking anti-swelling and bruising medication may be recommended.Performed expertly, there are very few serious complications of fat grafting to the breasts, but reported complications include lumps, irregularities, asymmetry, complete loss of the fat grafts and localized infection.
Most patients following fat grafting to the breast can return to normal activities of daily living the following day. The breasts will be somewhat swollen and bruised, but this is well-concealed in a soft sports bra. The swelling and bruising usually return to normal within two to three weeks.
The donor site where the Vaser Lipo fat graft harvesting was performed is also sore, swollen and moderately bruised. If post-harvest completion liposuction is performed, then there will be more discomfort and pain. All patients undergoing fat grafting and fat transplantation to the breasts must wear a liposuction garment on the donor site.
You will need to wear a specially fitted and ordered liposuction compression garments for at least 3 weeks for 22 hours a day. The garment will ensure the optimal contouring of your breasts post-procedure.
Patients who undergo fat grafting to the breast are generally well-selected and are very happy with the results of their procedure. Very unique and individualized contour shape, projection and form can be achieved with the use of fat grafting, with or without underlying breast implants.
Well-selected patients have chosen fat grafting to the breast for volume and projection, specifically because they want to avoid saline or cohesive gel breast implants, or want to improve the results overlying their saline or cohesive gel breast augmentation.
In general, most patients can expect a half to three-quarter cup size improvement or a noticeable improvement in the upper pole, or lower pole, or even in the appearance of implant edges or ripples, if localized fat grafting is performed.
There is no specific maintenance required for fat grafting to the breast. On average, 30% to 60% of all fat grafts will survive and Dr. Mulholland generally over-grafts the breasts, accounting for the fat grafts that will not take.
Patients are warned, prior to selecting fat grafting to the breast as a procedural option that a second session performed 12 months later may be required to optimize the aesthetic improvement and result.
Cost and Payment
Cost ranges will depend upon the number of body areas that must be used to harvest the necessary fat graft volume and the amount of fat that is required to achieve natural results
In general, fat grafting to the breast costs approximately the same as cohesive gel augmentation to the breast with a fat graft harvest charge. As an advantage, you can have body contouring done from the donor site at the same time and the liposuction enhancement is passed on at significant cost savings.
Special financing options are available for patients. To learn more about them, speak to our clinical staff who will love to inform you regarding it.
If I don’t like the results of my fat grafting to the breasts, can it be removed or reduced?
The good news is YES. If the fat grafting has resulted in a breast that is generally too large, then localized or generalized breast liposuction can reduce the breast size.
For smaller reductions, specialized injectable techniques are used to reduce any areas of the breasts where there may have been too much fat cell graft survival.
How long does the fat grafting to the breast procedure take?
The fat grafting procedure to the breast takes approximately 2.5 hours. Usually, one, two or three body zones are selected, depending upon the amount of fat in those zones and the harvest takes approximately 45 minutes to an hour.
Is fat grafting and fat transplantation to the breast painful?
Once the local anesthetic is injected, fat grafting to the breast is not a painful procedure.
The postoperative course is characterized by swelling and bruising and moderate discomfort. Most patients find their recovery discomfort can be controlled by a strong anti-inflammatory like Tordol (Ketolorac).
If multiple site liposuction is performed after the Vaser Lipo Fat Graft harvest, then there will be more discomfort and several days of a stronger analgesic may be required.
What kind of anesthetic is used for fat grafting to the breast?
Local anesthetic can be used in the donor site where the fat grafts are harvested and also into the breast(s) where fat grafting is performed. Local anesthesia is safe and can be combined with oral sedation.
The Surgical Centre is government certified for General anesthesia and for a 24-hour overnight stay. General and Intravenous sedation anesthesia (IV sedation) can also be used for patients that are nervous or anxious and would prefer not to have their procedure under local anesthesia.
If a General or IV Sedation is being used at the same time, then local anesthetic is supplemented by the general anesthesia, but the whole procedure can be performed under local anesthetic alone.
Who is a candidate for fat grafting to the breast or natural breast augmentation?
Good candidates for fat grafting to the breast include those individuals that want an increase in volume and proportion of segmental areas of the breast like the upper pole or inner aspect of the breast or camouflage of underlying breast implant irregularities.
Other good candidates have breast implants and have underlying visible irregularities or palpable irregularities such as rippling or sharp take off of the breast implant from the chest wall.
Candidates who have undergone a previous lumpectomy with a depression or one-sided irregularity or have one breast that is smaller than the other as a result of hereditary factors may also be good candidates for fat grafting to the breast.
Are stem cells dangerous to the breast tissue? Can they cause cancer?
National organizations, such as the Canadian and American Societies have position papers reviewing the risks and they do not believe that fat grafting to the breast results in an increased incidence of breast cancer.
Breast Cancers can still occur, so it is critical the all breast augmentation patients, fat grafting of gel or saline implantation continue normal radiological breast imaging for screening for new lumps.
Does fat grafting to the breasts limit radiologists’ ability to detect a breast cancer on mammograms, CT or MRI?
The American and Canadian Radiology Associations have gone on record as saying that fat grafting to the breast, breast reduction, breast lift or augmentation does not limit their ability to detect breast cancer cells from reactions around the fat grafts within the breast or other types of surgery.
Will my fat grafting to my breasts be smooth, symmetrical or lumpy?
The Structural Fat Grafting technique ensures longterm smooth volume enhancement of the breast with a very low risk of breast lumps or breast asymmetry. During the fat graft injection technique, 2mm sized toothpick fat grafts are deposited in discrete breast tunnels created by the blunt tipped microcannula. This technique ensures optimal smoothness of the natural fat grafted breast augmentation outcome.
The fat grafts become incorporated into the breast tissue and become part of that breast, moving and responding to deformation or pressure like normal breast tissue. If the fat is injected incorrectly in clumps or spherical blobs, then the middle of the fat graft will undergo necrosis and result in lumps and bumps.