We talk about placing breast implants all the time. Saline, silicone, what approach to placement, sizing, and everything that goes along with it. Are there any other options, and are they good ones?? Many women don’t want to have implants placed because of the potential for problems in the future. Even though these complications are rare, they are real and can lead to future surgery to fix them or the need for new implants. What are the other options and how do they work? The other option is using your fat to augment the breast. Yes, believe it or not, this can be done.
Fat grafting has been around for a long time and has become much more refined in recent years. We use fat to fill defects after trauma, we use fat to fill the face because fat is what is lost in the face as we age. We remove the fat from areas where it is no longer wanted (usually the abdomen, hips, or thighs), process it, then graft it into places where it is needed. Of course, fat grafting is like any other transplant, some of it takes and some of it doesn’t. However, with good post operative care and common sense, the take is pretty good. Fat also is “yours” so there is no rejection, no capsular contracture as seen with breast implants, and minimal recovery.
How is it done? Very simply, we liposuction the areas where the fat is no longer wanted. We then let the fat decant or release the water. We then process the fat to break it up and turn it into a cream like emulsion of fat and serum. It is then injected into the recipient area, in this case, the breast. The process can be done in the office under some sedation and it doesn’t take a long time. Of course you will have soreness from where the fat was harvested after liposuction and soreness in the breast from where the fat was injected. There also may be some bruising after that resolves quickly. We have you wear a regular bra or a sports bra for a week or so after and the results are very good.
Is it safe?? For years it was thought that fat grafting to the breast was dangerous. It was speculated that it could cause changes in your mammogram that would potentially hide bad things in the breast. This procedure has been done in Europe and South America for some time with no changes in breast cancer detection. Fat grafting to the breast also is gaining momentum in the U.S. as fear of litigation has decreased with greater acceptance of the procedure.
The procedure is called the natural lift or natural breast augmentation and we do them not infrequently. The procedure takes about one to two hours and you walk in and walk out. No hospital time.
What are the limiting factors? The biggest limiting factor is whether it is the right procedure for you. If you need a lift, of course fat grafting will not raise the nipple any significant amount. If you just need an augmentation, you are the candidate! We consult the same as we would for a regular breast augmentation. We get measurements and we use implants to size and figure out what size you want to be. THEN we have to figure out if there is enough fat on your body to do the job. If you want to be 400cc larger on each breast, that means we will need to find about 1000cc of fat as it takes that much to get 800 after decanting and processing. I think this is the biggest limiting factor for the procedure.
If you are looking for a way to augment your breasts, but don’t want implants for any reason, come see us for a consultation to see if the Natural Breast Augmentation is the procedure for you!!