One of the techniques available to plastic surgeons for improving the appearance of the breast in breast reconstruction patients is fat grafting. This modality, which involves removing fat from another area of a patient’s body, such as the abdomen or thighs, and injecting it into the breast, has been used for years to fill in depressions or lessen asymmetry following breast reconstruction with either implants or flaps. As noted in the American Society of Plastic Surgeons press release (1), a recent study evaluating the number of plastic surgeons using this technique reveals that a majority perform fat grafting to the breast, primarily for breast reconstruction but also for cosmetic breast augmentation patients. The procedure for removing fat, also known as fat harvesting, is similar to liposuction, and provides the surgeon with fat tissue that is then purified and injected into the breast area. This produces fatty tissue that is similar in consistency to the fatty component of breast tissue. It may be used to camouflage defects or depressions, reshape the breast, and in cosmetic breast augmentation, increase the size of the breasts.
Although fat grafting has been performed for years, caution was advocated earlier on due to potential interference with mammography or cancer screening resulting from fat injections into the breast. Such worries have been alleviated by more recent studies, which have shown that abnormalities due to cancer are easily distinguishable from changes on mammogram due to fat grafting procedures. Other factors to consider are the somewhat unpredictable results in terms of fat cell survival and ultimate volume retained, since these are due in part to the blood supply available in the breast tissue in which harvested fat is introduced. Breast augmentation using solely fat grafting as opposed to saline or silicone implants, may eventually become feasible even for larger increases in breast size.
Dr. Olivia Hutchinson is a female board certified plastic surgeon in NYC with advanced fellowship training in aesthetic plastic surgery. She performs breast augmentation, liposuction, fat grafting and other cosmetic plastic surgery procedures at her office on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, equipped with a fully certified AAAASF Operating Room. To schedule a consultation with Dr. Hutchinson, please contact us or call us at (212) 452-1400.
1. “Fat Grafting Techniques for Breast Reconstruction Are Commonly Used by U.S. Plastic Surgeons”, ASPS News & Resources, http://www.plasticsurgery.org/news-and-resources/fat-grafting-for-breast-reconstruction-commonly-used.html
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