“Dr. Thornton, can you just take the extra fat from my tummy and put it into my breasts?” This was the age-old question asked, jokingly, by women in the past. Today, however, this can be a reality. Fat grafting, also known as fat transfer, lipofilling or autologous fat transfer, is the process in which fat is taken from one place on the body (usually abdomen, thighs, or hips) and injected into the breasts to enlarge breast volume, assist in contour corrections or to minimize implant wrinkling. No implants, no foreign bodies. Fat grafting gives more natural results because it uses only your natural fat.
The procedure is minimally invasive. A gentle liposuction technique is utilized to obtain the fat, and small, less than 2mm incisions are used to inject it into the breasts. The procedure requires little downtime – usually about 1-2 weeks – before patients can return to their normal activities. However, there is a certain amount of fat that is resorbed by the body after the procedure. It is important to choose a surgeon that is up-to-date on the most advanced techniques available to try to keep the percentage of fat that doesn’t survive to a minimum.
Fat grafting has been used extensively in breast reconstruction, and is gaining popularity to assist with contour issues in the breast after lumpectomy for cancer. Natural fat is the perfect filler to replace the lumpectomy volume. Fat grafting can also assist in softening the breast after lumpectomy or radiation. If you find that your breast has gotten firm, tight or uncomfortable after lumpectomy and radiation, fat grafting can improve the softness of your breast. Often your insurance will cover reconstructive procedures after lumpectomy and radiation, including procedures to your other breast to achieve better symmetry.