Breast Augmentation Via Fat Transfer

Breast augmentation dates back to the 1800’s when surgeons transferred fat cells from one part of the body to the breast through injections. There are advantages to a method that can achieve breast augmentation without the use of incisions or implantable devices such as saline or silicone. In fact, breast enhancement through a fat transfer offers a most natural look and feel. Finally, breast augmentation through fat transfer offers an adjunct to treatment for women who have slight imperfections in the breast. These imperfections may be improved by building volume in the affected area through a fat transfer.

The 21st Century Debate
In the 21st century, however, some plastic surgeons do not feel breast augmentation through fat grafting is necessarily safe or effective, especially when such a reliable method through saline or silicone implants is available. Their concerns about reliability stem from data that suggests a low survival rate of the transferred fat cells whereby the cells are absorbed by the body over time. In addition, there are concerns about the development of cysts, calcification, and scarring which can impede cancer detection through mammography. Finally, the procedure will not work for women who have an insufficient amount of body fat. In 2007, both the American Society of Plastic Surgeons and the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery cautioned women about the fat transfer approach to breast augmentation.

Today’s Advanced Research

By May of 2008, the Aesthetic Surgery Education and Research Foundation (ASERF) funded a Georgetown University research project, led by Scott Spear, MD. The goal of the project is to better define technique, ideal candidacy, and safety for breast enhancement through fat grafting. Those in favor of breast augmentation through fat transfer contend that the survival rate of fat cells is highly dependent upon the technique that is used in the fat transfer. The concern about inhibited breast cancer detection through mammography is challenged because traditional breast augmentation procedures were initially determined to inhibit mammography for cancer detection as well. Since then, mammography technology has improved and can better distinguish between benign cysts and malignant tumors.

A Definitive Treatment Adjunct
At present time, fat transfer is being successfully used to build volume in localized areas of the breast. For example, some breast implant patients have a visible ridge surrounding a portion of the implant. Fat transfers can improve the appearance of a ridge or ripple effect. Breast reconstruction patients may have imperfections in the breast that can be improved through fat transfers as well. Fat transfers have been commonly used in the face and hands for many years. In the end, there are patients with positive outcomes who have received breast enhancement through fat transfer.

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