Can I Get a Natural Breast Enhancement with Fat Injections?

I heard about a natural breast enhancement in Europe where they grow your own fat cells in a lab and enlarge your breasts with your own fat cells, for people who do not care for silicone or saline. Is this even possible? Can I enlarge my breasts with fat injections from stem cells or my own body? And if so is it done in the US?

Doctor Answers 10

Breast augmentation by stem cells still a long ways off

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There is a company called Cytori that is conducting clinical trials of breast augmentation overseas using your stem cells, but it doesn't quite work like you described.

The plastic surgeon harvests fat cells, just like with liposuction. They are processed over about an hour, and the stem cells are separated out. They add these concentrated stems cells to the fat that they are going inject to "turbocharge" the injection, so that more of the fat cells stay. One of the problems with fat injections is that much of it gets resorbed by the body, but this appears to help the process. I have spoken to several of the doctors doing this, and they say that it is promising, but that they have only been doing it for a few months and that it is too early to tell how well it really works.

But it is only being done in clinical trials, and it is far from being recommended for routine use. And so far, it appears helpful only in small degrees of augmentation, such as less than a cup.

Injecting anything into the breast, particularly stem cells, must be done with great caution, and it should not be recommended for general use until there is a long track record of experience. That is because the breast is a very cancer-prone organ, and most women don't reach the age that cancer is common until several decades or more after getting some sort of an augmentation. We know that regular breast implants - silicone and saline - do not increase the chance of breast augmentation one iota. It will take a long time before we know that about injections of stem cells and fat into the breast.

It sounds great. And it will be. It will undoubtedly come sooner than "phasers' , but it is still a very long way off.

Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 49 reviews

There is a significant amount of controversy about this...

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There is a significant amount of controversy about this topic.

Dr. Sid Coleman in NY has published some amazing breast augmentation work done with autologous fat injections. These amazing results are tough for the average plastic surgeon to replicate, as Dr. Coleman does this sort of procedure frequently. Additionally, the procedure takes a long time to do... several hours and at great expense $$$, compared to less than an hour for a breast augmentation.

The controversial issue, in my opinion, is the behavior of the fat in the breast once it is injected. We know that fat without adequate blood supply tends to 'saponify' and calcify with time. Mammograms of women that have had breast reductions done have lots of 'spots' on them that do not represent cancer, but make subsequent mammographic evaluation more difficult to do.

A similar situation exists with fat injections to the breast. Some of that fat is going to become viable grafted tissue, and some is going to become calcified and will produce 'spots' on a mammogram that are challenging to interpret. These 'spots' do not represent cancer, but they obscure and confuse the efforts of the mammographer to detect cancer in the breast if it is there.

A breast augmentation does not have any causative link to breast cancer, and the presence of a breast implant, especially if it’s in the sub-pectoral position, impacts the sensitivity of mammography only minimally.

My advice would be to avoid fat grafting to the breast for augmentation purposes. It’s certainly a safe technique for augmenting the lips and facial soft tissues, and for other body contouring purposes

Fat transfer breast augmetnation

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Fat transfer may be natural and sound like a good idea, there are many problems with it:

1. only one cup size can be achieved
2. some of the re-injected fat calcifies, which could be mistaken for breast cancer on a mammogram.
3. you may develop oil cysts and tissue scarring
4. results can be unpredictable and require many sessions to achieve your desired results.

Currently, there is no research that proves fat transfer is safer than implants (silicone or saline).


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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.

Fat Grafting for Breast Augmentation

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Fat grafting for breast augmentation has been practiced for 15 or more years in Europe and Asia with extensive followup mammography and MRIs . Used properly it can enhance the size and shape of the breasts. Fat grafting is an excellent way to adjust breast size for asymmetry and can correct minor ptotsis. It is being used for reconstructive purposes to correct lumpectomy defects and asymmetries after tram or latissimus dorsi flaps. Yet it is still controversial here in the US for breast enlargement.

It is being practiced in the US within "studies" to ascertain long term safety but let's ask some important questions.Why is it still considered controversial here in the US? Is it because we have such a perverse legal system that would like to find someone to blame for every malady that befalls us? 

Fat grafting is extremely technique dependent. The viability of the fat cell is a key ingredient to the sucess of this procedure. The injection technique can be performed to respect the integrity of the breast. Fat necrosis and calcification are less likely to happen with current techniques. Obscuring the diagnosis of breast cancer is a concern but scar tissue, breast implants and other factors can obscure the diagnosis. Is fat grafting more problematic than a silicone breast implant? I don't think so.

Recent developments worldwide have given rise to a change of opinion about fat grafting to the breast and I believe it will become commonplace in the US in the near future.

Joel B. Singer, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon

Beware of breast enhancement with Fat Cells

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As of right now, breast enhancement with fat cells, or using your own harvested fat, is not generally recommended. The reason is that with any fat transfer, you never quite know how much of the fat is going to live and how much is going to die off.

If some of the fat dies off ( animal studies show that about 50% will be gone in a year), then it can lead to calcifications, mimicking what breast cancer clusters can look like ona mammogram. This can lead to false positives on a mammogram, or mask detection of breast cancer calcifications. Until there is a reliable technique to harvest and transfer fat that results in 100% viability over time without calcification, it will always be contraindicated.

Breast enhancement with fat

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Yes, it can be done.

The American society of Plastic Surgeons recently published a position paper on this issue. There are several surgeons in the US who are augmenting breasts using the patients own fat. Not only is fat being used for cosmetic purposes, it is also being used to help breast reconstruction patients.

I am presently conducting a study using fat stem cells on breast reconstruction patients who have had radiation damage. The fat stem cells not only provide volume to the breast, but they help to repair the tissue that has been damaged by radiation.

The usual barrier for people is that it costs more than an implant breast augmentation.

Check out the video below and the link for more info.

Ricardo L. Rodriguez, MD
Baltimore Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 98 reviews

Breast enhancement by stem cells

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Fat harvested by liposuction contains stem cells.

Injecting the fat to the breast for enhancement is still experimental at best.

Fat transfer to the breast is done more often in breast reconstruction, and we are learning from that experience but it is far away from being the routine.

To become more acceptable we have to prove that we are really injecting stem cells.

Some of the fat will die and leave calcium deposits i.e. fat necrosis. Radiologists can tell us if they can differentiate fat necrosis from breast cancer on mammogram. Oncologists have to tell us that injecting stem cells is safe in a normal breast.

Samir Shureih, MD
Baltimore Plastic Surgeon

Stem Cell Breast Augmentation: Not Yet

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I would echo the reply by the esteemed Dr. Teitelbaum. Stem cell breast augmentation is being performed in certain countries in Europe and Asia, but it is very doubtful that it will be performed here in the States for quite some time. There will need to be extensive studies that show it does not interfere with mammography or breast cancer screening first, and this process can take years and years (look at how long the gummy bear implants are taking!).

The closest thing we have today is fat grafting to the breasts which is very controversial, as this procedure has the possibility for creating changes on mammogram which can be mistaken for cancer. Fat grafting to the breast does work, but I reserve it for those patients who cannot tolerate implants and have really researched the subject. It is best for breast reconstruction after mastectomy and for people who have had major breast implant complications.

Anthony Youn, MD, FACS
Detroit Plastic Surgeon

As far as I know, there is no such thing in the US....

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As far as I know, there is no such thing in the US. There are some people injecting fat into the breasts but this is still controversial.

Steven Wallach, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.2 out of 5 stars 30 reviews

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