Fat Transfer Side Effects

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

Doctor Answers 23

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.

Natural Breast Augmentation by Fat Transfer - Side Effects and Complications

There are Side Effects and Complications with all surgical procedures and Fat Transfer is no exception. The good news is that side effects and complication rates associated with fat grafting to the breasts are not, overall, unduly high.

Common Risks, side effects and complications include infection, bleeding, fat embolism and graft volume loss; over filling, under filling, asymmetry, fat necrosis, and ectopic calcification among others. Although, there are risks and complications associated with autologous fat grafting, cases of severe complications and death appear to be extremely rare.


Concern regarding the interference of autologous fat grafts with breast cancer detection is not validated by the limited number of studies available on the topic but it appears that radiologists in general can differentiate artifacts from fat transfer and malignancies. However, caution should be used  in patients at high-risk for breast cancer including a positive BRCA-1, BRCA-2 and/or personal or familial history of breast cancer.

Results of fat transfer remain dependent on a surgeon’s technique and expertise, therefore make sure your surgeon is board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery.
 

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 13 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! 

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 72 reviews

Gentle harvest is the key to avoiding complications.

Nearly all the issues and complications with fat transfer (injection) are related to lipolysis (broken cells) of the injected material.  If you break/rupture/damage the fat as you remove it, not amount of good technique is going to provide a good result and the problem rate goes way up.  Exposing the harvested fat to the dramatic forces of a liposuction machine is problematic.  I prefer to harvest with a syringe technique, controlling the amount of vacuum with my own hands.  There is more to fat injection than meets the eye. 

Ritu Chopra, MD
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 29 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
4.3 out of 5 stars 48 reviews

Fat grafting to breasts and safety

Hi, fat grafting to the breast is a natural method of breast augmentation, in which fat is suctioned from your abdomen, thighs, or hips, and then transferred into your breasts.   The main side effect is that not all of the transferred fat will remain after the initial six months.  Recent studies have demonstrated that approximately 60% of the grafted fat will remain permanently, and therefore most patients will require a second grafting session after one year.  Other milder side effects include the development of small cysts at the site of the grafted fat, and bruising at the liposuctioned sites.  For patients who are looking for a modest (1/2 cup to 1 cup) enlargement, it is a good method for augmentation.  Best wishes.

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

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

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.