What patients should know about fat grafting (fat transfer) for the breast…
- Fat Grafting, also known as fat transfer is better than fillers.
- Fat Grafting to the breast can be done with and without implants.
- Fat Grafting can dramatically improve the overall result of a breast enhancement or reconstruction.
- Breast cancer screenings are no more affected by fat transfer to the breast than they are with any other breast surgery or enhancement.
- There are many misconceptions about Fat Grafting.
Fat Grafting, also known as fat transfer is better than fillers. Fat grafting describes the procedure where fat taken from one area of the body and is introduced into another such that it gets enough blood supply in its new location to survive. Its popularity is increasing because it provides the volume and contour of youth, but unlike fillers, also slows the aging process and dramatically improves skin quality.
Fat Transfer to the breast can be done with and without implants. Fat grafting to the breast can improve breast symmetry, implant palpability, regional augmentation and is successful in correcting non healing radiation injuries after breast reconstruction. It is even possible to do augmentations alone with fat grafting providing there is enough donor fat. It must be done correctly so the donor area is not compromised for the sake of the area we are trying to enhance.
Fat Grafting can dramatically improve the overall result of a breast enhancement or reconstruction. The use of fat grafting for the chest wall and breast area has revolutionized what is possible as well as the overall result aesthetic of the region as a whole. I feel it delivers a superior result, as do all of the many patients who have experienced its benefits. I use it routinely now for the décolleté to camouflage aging of the skeleton and skin, and to enhance cleavage.
Breast cancer screenings are no more affected by fat transfer to the breast than they are with any other breast surgery or enhancement. The big question on patient’s minds when the subject of breast cancer screening and fat transfer is detection. Keep in mind virtually any procedure on the breast can leave evidence and “fingerprints” of something being done. Breast reduction, breast lifts, breast liposuction and even breast augmentation, with or without a lift can leave calcifications, oil cysts and areas of fat necrosis. It also is dependent upon where the injections are placed, (into the breast or simply into the subcutaneous space overlying the breast tissue itself.) In my experience, patients who are at high risk for breast cancer genetically (family history or gene) are deemed safe for breast augmentation with implants. If you have a strong history of personal or family history of breast cancer you may want to wait until more evidence is available before undergoing fat grafting to the breast itself….although it may be used to blend the transition from breast to non breast on the chest wall when injected into the subcutaneous fat layer.
But remember good mammographers are good at distinguishing real issues from false alarms and can distinguish between benign and potentially malignant micro calcifications. Encapsulated (hardened) breast implants create a much bigger issue, as can subglandular (above the muscle) implants, when it comes to mammography. Any breast intervention can potentially affect the quality of the mammograms post operatively. If in doubt a small needle biopsy can be used to sample the tissue in question which is exactly what would occur in a breast that has never had any surgery.
There are misconceptions about Fat Grafting. Fat grafting is not as new a technique as you might think. It has been used for many years successfully and safely all over the world. In addition, contrary to other cosmetic enhancements, fat grafting is really not one procedure. It is highly technique dependent. Some practitioners use fat grafting as filler, done under local anesthesia, with no down time but occasionally some bruising. The rejection of the damaged fat cells creates swelling that mimics fat transfer but is not the same procedure as surgical intervention with fat. It is curious that while other procedures such as rhinoplasty and breast augmentations are not considered generic, that the public does not give fat grafting and its best practitioners the same standing. It is a rapidly evolving field within plastic surgery worldwide and a specialized focus.