Are There Risks That Go Along With Fat Transfer To Breasts?

I know most people are recommending breast implants but i really dont want to get them. All i wanna fix is my asymmetry in my breasts. One is a B cup the other is a C so I just want one cup for one breast. What could go wrong, how much and where is this done?

Doctor Answers 8

Fat grafting to the breast - Risks

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Fat grafting to the breast is still a new technique.  Fat grafting is not new.  Even grafting to the breast is not new- there are a few surgeons who have been doing a lot of it for a few years now, and have good post operative studies including postoperative MRI and serial mammogram. But there are risks.

To highlight the most commonly cited risks:

  • Calcifications and oil cysts.  If fat does not live, it forms microcalicifications.  Microcalcifications are what we look for on mamogram to detect cancer.  There are conflicting studies about the amount of microcalcifications and the radiologist's ability to discern which are "cancer" and which are "postoperative" changes.
  • Loss of fat.  When you move fat it doesn't all live.  The degree of fat "take" varies, and some of the variation may be due to technique- how do you prep the area (?Brava used), what cannulas do you use, what pressure do you harvest at, do you centrifuge or not, etc.  This is still a hotly debated area, and we need more studies to evaluate what the best techniques and processes are.  We  have made some strides through the work of Dr. Coleman, Dr. Khouri, and other leaders in the field, but more understanding is needed.
  • Donor area defects.  To get the fat we have to do liposuction.  Many women who seek breast augmentation don't have much fat.  So you can have all the risks and complications of liposuction- sensory change, discoloration, poor skin retraction, irregularities, etc.
  • New procedure.  We don't have the 40 year history of working with fat transfer like we do with implants. 
  • Typical surgery issues: DVT, bleeding, infection, etc

I have spent time with Dr. Khouri in Miami.  During my time in the OR there I was able to see patients at all stages of breast cancer reconstruction (he focuses a lot on breast cancer reconstruction- so the patients have had mastectomy).  These women had soft, supple breasts.  It was all from fat grafting as they were post mastectomies.  Some were years out.  I understand why doctors are wary of fat grafting, but I have been encouraged by what I have seen from other doctors and my initial results.


Palo Alto Plastic Surgeon

Risks of breast fat transfer

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All surgical procedures carry some risks and the other doctors have nicely spelled them out.  What is unfortunate is that many are promoting breast fat transfer to patients as if there were no risks and that all would work our perfectly.  This is simply not true.

Fat transfer for breast augmentation: a natural choice

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Most women who seek to enlarge their breasts would prefer to do so without implants.  Fat transfer can be used successfully for beautiful and long lasting results without any artificial implants.  Most problems associated with fat transfer are seen with:

  1. Inappropriate technique in grafting:  fat tissue loss, infection, irregularities and lumpiness
  2. Damage to the fat tissue during procurement: fat loss leading to calcifications and indentations
  3. Poor patient selection: patients who do not have sufficient tissue for transfer, or desire the same "look" of implants without any implants

There is a dramatic difference between the data on fat transfer produced in the past as compared to the data acquired since 2008 due to the advent of water jet assisted (JAFT) and ultrasound assisted harvesting, which lead to dramatically better outcomes. 

Fat transfer to the breast can be done safely, effectively, and it is routinely used by some Doctors for breast cancer reconstruction (the "Miami Reconstruction") so the mammography concerns are very limited.  Fat transfer can be particularly effective in balancing breast size asymmetry and correcting small areas of  defects from breast biopsy.  Fat transfer to the breast is a natural choice with natural outcomes and limited risks.

Mario Diana, MD
Plano Plastic Surgeon

Fat graft to the breast

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Yes there are complications and risks to fat grafting to the breast

Ifection, Bleeding, Hematoma

No take of the graft, Partial take of the graft

Asymmetry,skin Loss, Scarring, deformity,

Calcifications, interferance with mammogram


donor site deformity

Fat embolism, stroke , Blindness

Other unknown risks

Fat graft shift.

Samir Shureih, MD
Baltimore Plastic Surgeon

Fat Transfer to the Breasts

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This is a controversial method of increasing breast size. If done improperly, can lead to bleeding, infection and firm areas in the breast due to fat necrosis. In addition, it's rare to increase the breast more than a cup size with fat transfer.

Richard Ellenbogen, MD
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 30 reviews

Fat Transfer to the Breasts: Any Risks?

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Fat transfer to the breast is getting a lot of press, but there is not clear scientific evidence yet about its safety as a cosmetic surgery.The concern is that it might interfere with screening for breast cancer.  This subject is being investigated and we may know more in a few years.  The amount of fat that can be transferred successfully at one time is relatively small so at present it can only provide a small increase in breast size.  Fat transfer is being safely and successfully used in breast reconstruction after mastectomy.  In this setting the breast is removed and so mammograms are no longer required.  It can be used creativly to soften the results of implant reconstructions.  As we learn more the practical uses of transfered fat will likely increase.  Stay tuned!

Mary Lee Peters, MD
Seattle Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 117 reviews

Risks of fat transfer to breasts

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The use of fat transfer to the breasts has long been controversial but newer techniques and research are causing many to take a fresh look. The main concern has been that not all of the injected fat survives, no matter how good the technique is. This creates two issues: one is that the fat that doesn't "take" can leave calcium specks and lumps that look a lot like cancer on a mammogram, and the other is that it is hard to predict the result not knowing how much will remain. However, with digital mammography it is easier now  to distinguish these calcifications from those that are more worrisome. Another issue is that there is a limit to how much can be done; in general, the maximum amount is less than the size of even a small implant. So with implants you get a predictable result in terms of size and shape. However, cases of asymmetry are sometimes ideal for fat transfer, depending on the size difference.

Richard Baxter, MD
Seattle Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 59 reviews

Fat Transfer

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You need a consult with a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon who does fat transfer, and they can evaluate you for the quality of fat you can have harvested. Thank you for your question and good luck with everything.

Vivek Bansal, MD
Danville Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 26 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.