Fat Transfer Side Effects

Are there any side effects of having fat injections to increase the breast size?

Doctor Answers 22

Fat grafting to the breast!

Please find an experienced Board Certified Plastic Surgeon and member of the Aesthetic Society using the Smart Beauty Guide. These Plastic Surgeons can guide you on all aspects of facial surgery, breast augmentation and body procedures including tummy tucks or mommy makeovers!

Fat grafting is a valuable tool in breast surgery. This technique has gained more popularity over the past 7 years. There are many techniques used to harvest the fat, process the fat and then re-inject the fat. Conventional suction lipectomy is performed with a small diameter cannula, processed by separating the liquid and fibrous tissue from the fat, and then placed into syringes for re-injection or through a closed system.

Side effects of fat injections to breasts is a delicate subject

Fat grafting emerged in the last few years as a very useful tool in facial rejuvenation, augmentation of different body areas and even wound healing by stem cell transfer. When it comes to the breast, it is a completely different issue. The breast is a hormone sensitive organ and this is related to breast cancer. Now, to make things clear,the scientific evidence so far did not prove a relationship between cancer and fat grafting but there is a lot we do not know.

The current issue with fat grafting to the breast is the fear of having fat necrosis, lumps and biposies and more surgeries. Hope that helps!

Hisham Seify, MD, PhD, FACS
Orange County Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 19 reviews

Fat grafting side effects

fat grafting carries potential risks and complications including lumpiness, rippling, fat atrophy or loss, and asymmetry. In areas of the body where the fat is grafted more superficially such as the lower eyelid skin, these complications can be more noticeable.

Sean Younai, MD, FACS
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
4.4 out of 5 stars 41 reviews

Fat Transfer Side Effects

·       Most patients considering fat grafting to the breast are concerned with one or all of three major issues: (1) Fat graft retention, (2) Altered mammography, and (3)Any adverse effect from fat graft stem cells on the breast. ·       
       A medical literature review yields some major conclusions: (1) Average fat graft retention is 60-70% per procedure; this is dependent on the amount of fat grafted per procedure and, as always, the surgeon’s technique (2) Experienced mammographers have little or no issue distinguishing cancer from micro calcifications or oil cysts. In fact, the breast was left “cleaner”(mammographer readings) after fat grafting when compared to breast reduction. (3) Using my technique, with over 20 years of experience, limiting volume injected per surgery and grafting with 1cc syringes, has optimized graft success and yielded few if any mammographic disturbances (4) The American Society of Plastic Surgeons Fat Grafting Task Force: “Fat grafting may be considered for breast augmentation and correction of defects associated with medical conditions and previous surgeries; however, results are dependent on technique and surgeon expertise” (5) Fat grafting has been done worldwide for many years; including France, Italy and Asia so that the numbers are large and the follow-up is over a long period of time. There is no evidence of any adverse (cancer growth) with fat injections to the breast. (eg. one study by Illouz followed 230 patients for 11.3 years.) (6) Fat grafting has a long history of use in breast reconstruction after breast cancer and there is no evidence of enhanced cancer recurrence. ·       

         Fat grafting is a lifetime procedure ·       Breast size(fat cell volume) changes as you change ·       It is excellent at changing the base diameter(size) of the breast relative to the cheat wall ·       It is the only way to safely enhance cleavage as submuscular implants are limited to the natural border of the pectoralis major muscle insertion (sternum) and subglandular implants can frequently ripple when placed under thin cleavage skin. ·       It is the only way to enhance symmetry in cases of scoliosis or rib asymmetries, despite the use of different size implants. ·       Fat grafting can be accomplished with implants to optimize the size and shape desires of the patient while minimizing rippling and palpability and optimizing symmetry. ·       Fat grafting can be used to augment the breast in combination with breast lift (mastopexy). ·       Fat grafting is the ultimate sculpting and aesthetic tool; after all it is what Mother Nature herself chose to use. ·       Implant augmentation is not without its issues, including capsular contracture, may require internal supportive materials to aid in architectural support, implant leakage, and implant rupture.

Andrew Kornstein, MD, FACS
New York Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 12 reviews

Side effects of fat grafting

Like any surgical procedure, fat transfer has potential complications. The most predictable "'side effect" of fat transfer is that not all of the cells survive and thus some of the volume is lost. This usually stabilizes around 3-6 months. One of the most important "side effects" of using fat is that it changes with your body, meaning if you gain or lose weight your breasts will change size accordingly.  It is possible to have small hard lumps where a cluster of cells dies. These are usually not visible, but can be felt. The addition of fat cells to the breast can cause calcifications seen on mammograms, which may increase the chance of needing a biopsy. 

Fat based augmentation is a relatively new technique. As it becomes more popular and time goes on we may learn of other complications and side effects.

Meghan Nadeau, MD
Seattle Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 4 reviews

Fat transfer side effects

Swelling and bruising are common side effects that are considered temporary. Some of the fat may not take to the area, either, so you may need a few sessions to achieve your desired size. 

Some more serious risks include calcification of fat, oil cysts and scarring. These may be mistaken for cancer on mammograms. However, I have not found this to be a concern for my patients, and the procedure has been able to achieve great results! 

Side effects of fat transfer

With any surgical procedure, risks and complications exist.  Fat transfer is a safe and effective way to increase your breast size from 1/2 to 1 cup on average.  The usual risks from surgery like bleeding, bruising, swelling, infection, and numbness are low, and scarring is very minimal.  However, there are some risks unique to fat transferring like fat necrosis, where the transfer piece of fat dies and forms a hard ball. There can be shrinkage, loss of fat, formation of fat oil drops, and lumps. I do suggest finding a board certified plastic surgeon who has done several fat transfers to the breasts, and discuss all your concerns.  Sometimes there will also be changes on your mammagrams from fat transfer that shows some abnormalities. For most women, this is a very safe alternative to breast augmentation, with no risks of implant problems.

Connie Hiers, MD
San Antonio Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 13 reviews

Fat transfer to breast side effects

Fat grafting to the breast is becoming very popular.  It can offer a nice enhancement with minimal scars and the added benefit of treating another area with liposuction.   As with all surgeries the vast majority of the time you will have some discomfort but no real problems.  However, make sure that you are seeing a qualified plastic surgeon for this and that they do it as a regular part of their practice.  There are several things that they should discuss with you; too many to list.  Some of the key areas of your discussion should include the cosmetic concerns including under/over correction and dimpling.  That the percentage of fat that survives is variable and a second procedure may be required.  Of the fat that does not survive most is resorbed by your body but some may result in calcification which can influence mammogram interpretation.  And finally a discussion about the role of stem cell activation with fat transfer.

Rodger Shortt, FRCSC
Toronto Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 42 reviews

Fat Transfer Side Effects

With any surgery, including fat transfer for breast augmentation, there are potential risks and/or side effects.  These can include: infection, bleeding, fat resorption, and fat necrosis.  Check with a board certified plastic surgeon who has extensive experience in both fat transfer and breast augmentation with breast implants to see which option may be in your best interest.     

Vincent D. Lepore, MD
San Jose Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 47 reviews

Fat transfer to the breasts

Compared to the face fat transfer to the breast has the same risks of even resorption of the fat with potential unevenness, etc.  My only negative comment about fat trasfer to the breasts is that don't expect major changes.  Increase of cup size of one or more is infrequent.  Enhancement and improvement of some areas of the breast is more likely.

Chase Lay, MD

Board Certified Facial Plastic Surgeon

Chase Lay, MD
Bay Area Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 68 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.