Breast augmentation is one of the most popular cosmetic surgical procedures in the country. In fact, almost 300,000 women had breast augmentation just in 2016. But even given its popularity, there is a growing number of women who want an augmentation without using an implant. As a result, there’s been an increase in women’s interest in alternative breast enhancement procedures. One of these alternatives is fat grafting, and it has emerged as a successful and effective technique to enhance breast size without an implant.
WHAT IS FAT GRAFTING?
Fat grafting is a technique that uses your own fat to fill in the breasts. Through liposuction, the fat is obtained from areas of the body with unwanted fat. Typical areas include the lower abdomen, inner thighs, and outer thighs. Once the fat has been suctioned, it’s filtered to separate and purify fat cells. The purified fat is then injected into the breasts, and distributed evenly to create natural looking, enhanced breasts.
WHAT ARE THE PROCEDURE AND RECOVERY PERIOD LIKE?
Depending on the level of enhancement you want, the entire procedure takes anywhere from three to six hours. The procedure is done under general anesthesia, so you’ll be asleep the entire time.
As with any surgical procedure, there will be a recovery period. Most patients feel some discomfort and soreness, especially in the areas where the liposuction was done. Patients describe the feeling as being similar to the soreness you would feel if you did a thousand sit-ups or squats. Surprisingly enough, the breasts don’t hurt as much.
The soreness will last about a week. After that time, most patients return to work or school. You will also be able to exercise at this point, though you’ll need to take it easy at first. Bruising is common post-procedure, and starts to go away after a week or two. Also, the swelling you experience will decrease in about three or four weeks. After four to six weeks, you’ll begin to see final results.
ARE THERE ANY DISADVANTAGES TO FAT GRAFTING?
Fat grafting seems like it might be too good to be true—you can have the enhanced breasts you want, without the need for implants. But, like most things in life, you have to give a little to get a little. There are a few disadvantages to fat grafting that you should know about.
The main disadvantage has to do with the nature of using your own tissue to enhance breast size. Using tissue from one part of the body in another part of the body is a technique that’s been used for decades—kidney transplants and skin grafts, for example. So while there are a lot of things we understand about this type of procedure, scientists haven’t figured out how to guarantee that the tissue will survive. Despite a doctor’s best efforts to make tissues match, sometimes the fat transferred to the breasts will not survive. Studies show that anywhere between 40-60% of the transferred fat will survive. The remainder “dies” and gets absorbed in a harmless process. And because there’s no way to predict how much of the fat will survive, results can’t be guaranteed. There is a possibility that you’ll end up with breasts smaller than you’d hoped.
Another downside to fat grafting is that the overall size of augmentation is always smaller than what you can achieve with an implant. This has to do with the way the fat is obtained and purified. There’s only so much fat that can be removed from whichever area is liposuctioned. Of this fat, about half is lost during the purification process. Then, the remaining fat tissue is distributed across two breasts. After the procedure, some of the fat will die. The end result is about a half cup enhancement of your breasts, which is less than what you would get with implants.
AND THE ADVANTAGES?
The most obvious advantage of fat grafting is that on top of enhanced breasts, you get liposuction on another part of your body as part of the package. Another advantage is that you avoid risks associated with implants, since only your natural tissues are used. And on top of that, breasts enhanced with fat grafting tend to look very natural.
Overall, fat grafting has its pluses and minuses, as with anything. But it is an increasingly popular procedure among women who want to increase their breast size. It’s a fantastic option for someone who wants a small augmentation without using implants, and who also wouldn’t mind having excess fat removed from another part of their body.
If you’re looking for a more significant enhancement, though, you’re probably better off with a traditional breast augmentation procedure. As always, it’s best to discuss all your options with a board-certified surgeon.
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