What is Lipofilling and How is It Used for Breast Reconstruction?

Can fat transfer techniques be successfully applied for breast reconstruction? Or are there better methods out there?

Doctor Answers 24

Fat transfer techniques can aid breast reconstruction

Fat transfer is a useful tool to optimize breast reconstruction outcomes. I recently fat grafted a patient's TRAM flap to improve volume, projection and shaping of the reconstructed breast. Insurance will pay for 'revision of breast reconstruction' and patients benefit from the liposuction required to obtain the fat for grafting. That's a double bonus for the patient !

Fat grafting

Fat grafting has been shown to be a reasonable ancillary procedure to "touch-up" monor irregularities with breast reconstruction.

Steven Wallach, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.1 out of 5 stars 23 reviews

Fat transfer or lipofilling and breast reconstruction

Recently advances have been made in techniques to harvest and transfer living fat cells from patients and move them from one part of the body to another. Improving contour issues in breast reconstruction is one situation that fat transfer has an increasingly important role.

Most commonly, fat transfer is used to soften the interface between the edge of the implant and the surrounding tissues. Sometimes, the extent of the mastectomy is beyond where the implant will fill and a sharp stepoff is noted. Fat can be harvested from one part of the body (such as the abdomen, flanks, hips, or thighs) and prepared in such a way as to preserve the most living fat cells. These are then immediately injected into the tissues using special instrumentation that allows the fat to be deposited in small streams to increase the likelihood that the blood supply will grow into the fat tissue.

Sometimes, fat transfer can be used to increase the size of an autologous reconstruction (such as a TRAM flap or DIEP flap), or to correct localized contour deformities.

The use of fat transfer to correct post lumpectomy deformities, to enhance then size of a normal breast without using implants, or to creaste a breast mound without any additional need for tissue transfer or implants are exciting new frontiers that are currently being evaluated.

Stephen U. Harris, MD
Long Island Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 10 reviews

Fat grafting in breast reconstruction

Fat grafting is often used in breast reconstruction for two main reasons -

  • To correct the "shelf" that occurs between the chest wall and the upper pole of the implant
  • To correct contour irregularities around the implant (palpable ripples, thin areas of skin, etc.)

The fat is removed from another area of your body (abdomen, thighs, hips) and is processed to isolate the fat cells. These fat cells are then injected into the area you wish to fill. Depending on technique, a percentage (the higher the better) of this transplanted fat will "take" or live and thus correct the deformity. Sometimes, more than one surgery is required to correct an area.

Some insurance companies deem this procedure as "investigational" and will not pay for it. It is important to discuss this with your surgeon prior to undergoing fat transfer. Other options include using dermal fat grafts (leaving fat attached to skin and transplanting as a single unit) and dermal matrices such as Alloderm.

David Bogue, MD
Boca Raton Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 16 reviews

Lipofilling or fat transfer can be very useful in breast reconstruction.


Fat transfer is not the primary technique in breast recostruction, but we often use it to add finesse and a more natural look AROUND the main reconstruction.

The main breast reconstruction is done with an implant or a flap. But there can be hollows or defects from the mastectomy around the implant or the flap. This is where filling in with fat injections can turn a good result into a great result.

George J. Beraka, MD (retired)
Manhattan Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 9 reviews

Lipofilling allows fine tuning of reconstructed breast contour

Lipofilling is a technique that allows the reconstructive surgeon to harvest fat cells using liposuction from an area of excess.  These fat cells are then purified and may be reinjected, or grafted, into areas of deficiency.  Often these areas include the upper and inner aspect of the breast, the cleavage area, that is difficult to fill naturally with an implant.  Lipofilling allows a surgeon to fill focal deficits in these and other aspects of the breast to yield the most natural looking result.

Fat transfer for breast reconstruction

Fat transfer is a great adjunct to breast reconstruction. It can help with autologous flaps to add volume to certain areas as well as implants where there maybe some rippling. Generally fat transfer maybe needed more than once to get the desired outcome and the patient will benefit by getting rid of unwanted fat in certain areas. Its a win- win for the patient.

Hope this helps

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

Fat grafting

Fat grafting is commonly used in breast reconstruction. Fat can improve contour and add thickness after mastectomy or lumpectomy. It can be used to help contour after breast reconstruction with implants. Many options exist. Obtain a consultation.

William C. Rigano, MD
Dayton Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 9 reviews

The use fat grafting in breast reconstruction

Fat Transfer is utilized widely in breast reconstruction. I use fat transfer in both implant base and autologous tissue reconstructions after mastectomy. To optimize fat take, I harvest fat using nontraumatic techniques.
I have also used fat grafting to correct contour deformity after lumpectomy and radiation. However, the use of fat grafting as a primary breast reconstruction technique after mastectomy has been reported but if limited successful result.
I recommend to all patients with breast cancer to work closely with all their doctors including oncologist, oncologic breast surgeon, and board certified plastic surgeon to plan out their breast reconstruction.

Mytien Goldberg, MD, FACS
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 4 reviews

Lipofilling or fat grafting can be used for breast reconstruction!

You can do the first session at the time of mastectomy by injecting the pec muscle with fat.  Subsequently you can use the BRAVA to externally expand the tissue and perform fat grafting until the desired result is reached.  Also my colleagues in Europe place and expand and fill it to the desired volume.  Once that has been done then they simply add fat graft  while removing volume until the device can be complete removed.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! Please read reviews of the surgeons to find the right fit for you!.

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.