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Is using a patient’s own fat for breast augmentation viable?

SGK Plastic Surgery Blog

woman wearing a braA new study concluded that success for breast augmentation using a patient’s own fat is possible. Presented at the American Society of Plastic Surgeons’ (ASPS) annual meeting in Toronto in October, it found that fat grafting for breast augmentation could be effective and have long-term results. It has been a relatively obscure procedure, but with new studies there is more evidence that it could be succesful.

Fat cells are harvested via liposuction from one part of the body and injected into another during fat grafting, which has few surgical complications and is most commonly used cosmetically for the face and hands, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS).

The study by Dr. Daniel Del Vecchio, a Boston plastic surgeon, and Dr. Louis Bucky, a Philadelphia plastic surgeon, was conducted over a two-year period and involved 25 patients who had breast enhancement using fat grafting.

Before the procedure, each patient was photographed and had intravenous contrast MRI and/or 3D breast imaging, followed by three weeks of expansion—such as wearing a suction bra. Six months after the procedure, patients were again photographed and had the other breast imaging tests.

Six months after surgery all patients had visible breast volume increase, with a mean volume increase of 250 cc per breast, according to the authors.

The study concluded that external pre-expansion of the breasts is an important variable in the procedure’s success, as is patient selection. The authors wrote that this technique can be “performed in a time efficient manner with reproducible, long-lasting results.”

“While the procedure is gaining scientific validity and traction among plastic surgeons, it is not the same as having breast enlargement with implants,” noted a release by ASPS.

ASPS and ASAPS have previously cautioned against the procedure because some of the side effects such as oil cysts, calcification and tissue scarring were difficult to distinguish mammographically between calcifications associated with breast cancer vs. those associated with fat transfer. However more recent radiology literature suggests that new generations of mammography equipment, especially digital mammography, are better able to distinguish cancer cells from benign ones, according to the societies.

For more information, read study’s abstract.

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