Fat Transfer Breast Augmentations: Ready or Not?

Fat Transfer Breast Augmentations: Ready or Not?

Guest post by Dr Stephanie Power from Power Plastic Surgery. Dr. Power personally performs all surgeries and non-surgical procedures in her practice. Every aspect of pre-operative planning is discussed between patient and surgeon. Every follow up visit is also performed by Dr. Power alone. There are no patient care coordinators or nurse injectors. Each patient is given Dr. Power’s contact information post-operatively and encouraged to call her directly if concerns arise at any time. Her focus is optimizing patient care and safety to achieve the best plastic surgery results.

The idea of surgery can be scary to a lot of people, especially if the surgery involves implants of some kind. So what if you could say no to silicone and yes to something a little more natural?

Right now, research is being done to determine if this new method of breast augmentation is viable: fat transfer.

So far, research shows that it provides a more natural look and only gives a small increase in breast size. This means that if you’re looking to go from an A-cup to a D-cup, you might want to stick with silicone or saline implants.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of risks involved with this surgical procedure, and the results aren’t as permanent as other forms of augmentation. While many people are excited about these new techniques and procedures, a lot of sites aren’t addressing any of the possible risks or complications.


Like all surgeries, there are serious risks involved.

The major ones are the following:

  • Cysts
  • Infection
  • Microcalcification
  • Necrosis (death) of fat cells
  • Possibility that some of the transferred fat cells will leave the breast area”

Among other concerns, the amount of fat needed for a good augmentation is still undecided. Because of the possibility of necrosis, doctors agree that fat should be over-injected to prevent loss of fatty tissue. The blood supply must be available to allow the fat to adjust to its new location, or the cells will die.

Weight loss and gain can also affect how the fat will take when settling into the breasts. Weight changes can also affect how big or small the changes in breast size will be, post-surgery. If the fat comes from your stomach, and that’s where you tend to gain weight, then you’d be likely to continue to get breast growth with those fat cells from your stomach.

An interesting challenge is that doctors are still determining whether doing these fat transplants will make it more difficult to detect breast cancer through mammograms or other tests. However, this is to an extent true with other forms of breast augmentation as well. As with other augmentations, you should let your doctors know that you have had surgery when you go in to get your breasts examined for any medical reason.

One of the most significant concerns is that the fat cells don’t survive as long as a silicone or saline implant would. As Dr. Walter Erhardt says, “They may be absorbed by the body, liquefy, form a cyst, calcify or produce scarring within the breast tissues.” This is another reason why the volume added by a fat transfer isn’t as much as a more standard augmentation. Dr. Erhardt also expresses some concerns about the volume of addition—it typically equals only 14 tablespoons of liquid—and mentions that it’s not only more expensive, but it also takes longer than breast lifts and typical breast implants.

While fat grafts can help you avoid problems that typical implants would have, it’s more of a short-term surgery that won’t be as permanent as silicone or saline implants.

Other methods are being developed for these injections, and one of them is using stem cells. Unfortunately, they are not so easily controlled or regulated. Using stem cells for this purpose can lead to creating or worsening cancer.


An important benefit of using fat from your own body for augmentations is that there isn’t a risk for an allergic reaction or your body refusing the implant. No incisions are necessary, either. However, the liposuction may not go perfectly and could possibly create some unevenness at the site of the donated fat.

Another problem is that you can’t guarantee that the breasts will be the same size and shape, since fat is more unpredictable than man-made implants. This may lead you to be unhappy with your results, which might mean a second surgical procedure.

Methods and protocols are still being developed, so anything more than a small or medium augmentation isn’t particularly feasible, in a general sense. Despite a lot of patient satisfaction, there is still a lot of variation in terms of how much of the fat stays in place over time. RealSelf reviews rate it as 86% worth doing, though.

The range of variation is significant: 30-80%. If you get this type of surgery, you’re almost certainly going to have to go back under the knife to get more volume in your breasts.

Current methods can only do so little fat because of the limited space available in the breast. A high volume of injection would impair blood flow and thus cause potential death of the fat cells. The Brava® is a new invention that can, allegedly, gradually expand the space inside the breast, allowing more space for new fat cells. While the information about this device is on reputable websites, it is important to make sure you have all the facts and wait for research and development to be completed before you decide to try it. It’s possible that this could be a major game-changer in the world of plastic surgery. But only time will tell.

This one article can only give you so much information. Don’t be afraid to look around and evaluate your options to the fullest of your abilities.

And of course, ask your doctors about possibilities for your future breast augmentation, and keep your mind open. Your doctor will let you know if you are a candidate for fat-transfer breast augmentation.


About Dr Stephanie Power;

Clinic: 199 Avenue Rd, Toronto, ON M5R 2J3, Canada

Phone: 416.962.1010

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Dr. Power completed her undergraduate degree with honors at Princeton University (Princeton, NJ, USA). She completed premedical courses while concentrating in Music and also achieved a Certificate in Musical Performance. Her fine technical skills as an Ivy League trained flutist and artistic background have translated into her plastic surgery practice.

She then completed her MD and plastic surgery residency at the University of Western Ontario (London, ON). She was the first plastic surgery resident to enroll in the UWO Clinician Investigator Program and completed an MSc in Medical Biophysics during her surgical training. Having achieved board certification in Plastic Surgery (FRCSC, 2013), she moved to Toronto and completed two fellowships in Aesthetic Surgery and Trauma & Reconstructive Surgery at the University of Toronto. She subsequently opened her private practice at the prestigious 199 Avenue Road in Yorkville and maintains a busy reconstructive practice with a focus on skin cancer.