You’ve heard the phrase “Location, location, location” when it comes to real estate or vacation destinations, but what about fat deposits? How many times have you thought, “If only I could move this extra fat on my buttocks to my breasts, we’d be in business”? Plastic surgeons have begun using a new procedure known as Breast Lipotransfer, breast fat transfer, or breast lipofilling, to do just that.
Basically, the procedure takes fat from one area of the body and transfers it to the breasts, enlarging them an average of one cup size. There are no artificial implants involved, only your own adipose stem cells extracted from your fat. The result is a remarkably natural-looking and feeling breast augmentation with a life span as long as the patient’s.
First, the woman wears a specially-designed “suction bra” that allows the breasts to expand so there is room to inject the extra fat. The bra is worn for about a month for a few hours each day. This helps the graft’s likelihood of staying in place and decreases the chance that multiple injections will be needed. The surgery is done under local anesthetic. There is no need to be put completely to sleep with this procedure.
Once the patient is anesthetized, about a liter of fat is removed from a “stubborn” area of the body; usually the buttocks, hips or waist. The use of this “stubborn” fat means it is likely to resist changes in size due to weight loss. Most patients say that only a slight pulling or pinching is felt; there is no pain. Then, intact fat cells are “harvested” from the fat removed. These intact cells contain stem cells, which allow the fat to settle in to its new home and become part of the woman’s body again.
The adipose cells are reinjected into the body at multiple injection sites. The sites heal quickly and invisibly.
The full effectiveness of the graft can be seen after about a month. Doctors estimate that each graft will maintain between 70-90% of its volume, and in some cases the fat will grow larger than its original volume. Doctors estimate that if another augmentation is desired, it can be performed after three months.
Some women experienced formation of cysts or microcalcification of the breasts after the lipotransfer was completed. There have been reports of these lumps being picked up in mammograms and women being exposed to unnecessary biopsies. However, studies have shown that these growths are in the minority of patients, and most are satisfied with the outcome of the procedure.
One website lists the potential cost as anywhere from $2,500 to $8,700 per 100cc of fat injected. Another estimates around $2,600 for 100cc, plus an $1,800 “facility fee.” A typical injection is around 200cc of fat per breast.
As with any medical procedure, the costs will be unique to the patient. Some sources say that the lipotransfer process costs about the same as a typical breast augmentation, while others say it costs a little more. If you’re looking into the procedure, a consultation with your doctor is essential for accurate pricing.
Pros and Cons
Breast Lipotransfer is a high-tech alternative to traditional breast augmentation techniques. It creates more natural-looking breasts and they will last longer than breasts augmented with silicone implants.
Since there is a chance that about 30% of the adipose tissue transferred will reabsorb, the needs for multiple augmentations is a risk that women take. A traditional implant would not require multiple treatments and would produce a more predictable result, but it will not look as natural. Be sure to speak to your doctor to find out what option is right for you.