What’s a Breast Augmentation with Fat Transfer?
The medical term for a breast augmentation is augmentation mammaplexy. This is the most common cosmetic surgery procedure, with over 290,000 procedures performed in 2013. While the procedure is most common among women in their 30s, it’s also very common in younger and older age groups. Women may choose breast augmentation because their natural breasts are smaller than they’d like, or because they’ve lost breast volume due to pregnancy, weight loss, or mastectomy. Breast augmentation can use implants, or transfer of fat from other areas of the body, to increase the size or projection of the breasts. This page is about the fat transfer method; information on breast implants is here.
If you’re choosing breast augmentation surgery, make sure you’re choosing it because you really want it, not to please someone else or to fit an imagined ideal. No one else can make the choice for you; it’s your body, and you’re in charge of it. After you do your research and understand the procedure, if you believe that breast augmentation is right for you, then proceed. To help you in your decision-making process, we have some information about the risks and benefits of having a breast augmentation with fat transfer at Breast Augmentation (with Fat Transfer): Risks and Benefits.
Please note that this page is for informational purposes only, and is not a substitute for qualified, individualized medical advice. You should discuss your potential elective surgery with your own doctor(s), including your primary care physician and the surgeon who will perform your surgery if you decide to proceed.
How it’s done
In most cases, you will be under general anesthesia for this procedure. Your surgeon will then use liposuction to collect fat from other areas of your body to be transferred to your breasts. You and your surgeon will have previously discussed which areas to liposuction. A tube is inserted through one or more small incisions in the target area and is gently moved around to loosen fat tissue. The fat is then removed by suction. The surgeon prepares the fat for injection, and the fat is then injected into the breasts through several injection sites. You and your surgeon will work together to select the injection sites to achieve the shape and size you’re looking for.
Preparing for the procedure
Choosing your surgeon
When choosing a surgeon, you want a highly-trained professional with experience in this type of surgery. A member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons has received at least six years of surgical training after medical school, with three of those specifically in plastic surgery. Look for the designation “ASPS” after the surgeon’s name. Also, choose a surgeon with whom you feel comfortable and safe, and who listens to you and tries to understand your goals. If you have friends who’ve had cosmetic surgery, and you like their results, ask for a referral. While cost may be a consideration, don’t allow this to override more important factors in your decision. Your safety and the quality of your results are worth a little extra spending.
For more help in your search for a plastic surgeon, visit our How to Find the Best Plastic Surgeon page. At Doctor Review, you can also search providers for patient reviews to help you find the very best.
Getting ready for surgery
You will have at least one appointment with your surgeon before surgery. You’ll have the chance to discuss your goals with your surgeon in detail, to communicate what aesthetic result you’re aiming for. You’ll work with your surgeon to determine whether you have enough fat on other areas of your body for this procedure to get the results you want, or whether you want to consider breast implants as an alternative.
You will likely be asked to wear a special bra-like device for several days before surgery. It puts gentle suction on the breasts, to make space for the newly transferred fat. Wearing this device increases the potential volume increase the fat transfer will provide. While wearing it may seem like a hassle, your results will be much better if you wear the device as much as possible.
The day before your surgery, you should eat and drink enough healthy food and water, and get enough sleep the night before. You will need to stop eating 8 to 12 hours before your surgery. If you smoke, you should stop for at least 24 hours before the surgery. If you take daily medications to prevent blood clots, such as aspirin, you will likely be asked to stop those for 24 to 48 hours before the surgery (proceed as directed by your doctor, and don’t stop any medication without talking to your doctor first).
You will stay at the surgical center in the recovery room for several hours following surgery, for the anesthesia to wear off. You may have a small tube, called a drain, in one or more places where liposuction was done, if the surgeon finds this to be necessary to prevent the accumulation of excess fluid. The drains will be removed when your surgeon no longer feels that they’re necessary. You should take care of the small incisions where liposuction was performed, keeping them clean and covered and watching for signs of infection. If sutures were used to close the skin, they’ll likely be removed at this appointment.
For the first two weeks after the procedure, it will be important to keep pressure off of your breasts, in order to maximize the amount of transferred fat that will successfully remain in your breasts. You should not sleep on your stomach. While you may otherwise return to normal activity within a few days of activity, as directed by your surgeon, you should expect some swelling and soreness, particularly in the areas where liposuction was performed, for 4 to 6 weeks. The tiny incision sites will gradually fade and will eventually become nearly invisible in most women, though this may take a year or even longer.