Breast Augmentation by Autologous Fat Transfer – 10 Myths and Facts

Breast augmentation using implants has been performed for 50 years.

By contrast, breast augmentation by fat transfer has only been available for the last 5-7 years.  As it is a new procedure, it has not as yet been widely adopted.  Surgeons are generally conservative and prefer to stick with methods they know rather than try something new.

Unfortunately, breast implants have been associated with significant problems and many breast implants are now being removed.  Many women also prefer not to place foreign substances inside their bodies and are seeking a better, more natural method of breast augmentation. This has been the stimulus behind the development of Breast Augmentation by Fat Transfer.

So what are some of the myths and actual facts about breast augmentation using your own fat?

Myth 1. The fat doesn’t last. 

Once the fat has been transplanted into the breast, it survives as a part of your normal breast fat.  In fact the breasts often increase in size over time especially if you put on a little weight.  The old expression related to eating that says “a moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips” becomes instead “a moment on the lips, a lifetime on the ….. breasts”.

Myth 2. Only a small amount of fat can be transferred so the result is not worth it.

In our experience, even a very thin person has enough fat available to produce a significant breast augmentation.  Breast augmentation is not just about size but about shape and fat distribution.  We find that, if only a small amount of fat is available, then enhancing the cleavage and adding a little fat to where it is needed produces a very worthwhile result.

Myth 3. Fat transfer is an easy procedure and anyone can do it.

Breast augmentation by fat transfer is a technically demanding procedure and there any many pitfalls. Specialised equipment is required and a team of technicians work together to achieve the result. If a surgeon says it doesn’t work, (and we hear of many who are critical of the procedure) then it is clear that he has not as yet mastered the technique.

Myth 4. Fat transfer can cause lumps in the breast.

If the fat does not survive, then areas of fat necrosis occur which are palpable as firm lumps.  With experience fat necrosis (and therefore lumps) can be avoided.  If a lump does occur, it is often an oily cyst which can be easily aspirated.

Myth 5. The fat donor sites can be scarred, indented or lumpy.

Special skill is required when harvesting the fat in order to avoid these complications in the donor sites.  Harvesting fat for transfer differs in many important ways from ordinary liposuction.  The fat is taken from deep within the body so as not to leave any visible defects. Low suction pressures are essential to preserve the delicate fat cells and to prevent donor site defects. Removal of excess fat from the hips, tummy or thighs is a significant side benefit and is often appreciated by our patients.

Myth 6. It is not safe to put fat into the breasts. 

Your breasts actually consist of breast gland tissue (the milk forming part of the breast) surrounded by body fat.  The fat transfer procedure does not place fat into the breast gland but rather augments the fat around the breast gland.  Studies have shown that there is no increased risk of breast cancer following fat grafting into the breast.

Myth 7. Multiple operations are required to produce a noticeable result. 

Only about 1 in 20 patients need a second operation.  In other words, sufficient fat can be grafted in one operation to produce a 1-2 cup size increase in breast volume with considerable enhancement to the cleavage and to the texture of the breast skin.  Most women are thrilled with the result.

Myth 8. I want a large increase in breast size and don’t have enough fat available.

In these cases you should consider a Hybrid procedure.  In other words as much fat as possible should be used to enhance the cleavage and to thicken the skin around the breasts.  This will then enable the use of a smaller implant which will be associated with far fewer problems in the future.

Myth 9. Breast implants are a safer alternative.

Inserting breast implants requires much more dissection (cutting) of the muscle and skin.  The implants are not lifetime devices and can be expected to require replacement often after only a few years.  25% of women with implants undergo a second operation within the first 3 years.  Breast implants are now known to be associated with Breast Implant Illness (fatigue, memory loss, joint pains, skin rashes, hair loss) and Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma which is a serious disease of the capsule around the implants.  None of these conditions are associated with fat transfer, which is therefore a much safer option.

Myth 10. If I need to have my implants removed, they should be replaced with new implants.

Many woman, having experienced breast implants, do not wish to have new implants inserted. They often say that they regret having had breast implants when they were younger as the implants were often too large and caused discomfort and stretched skin. Fat transfer gives us an alternative method to restore the lost volume that occurs when the implants are removed.  Mastopexy (breast lift) gives us a way to reduce the excess skin. When combined a mastopexy (breast lift) together with a fat transfer often produces a result far superior to that obtained by breast implants.