Breast Enlargement (Fat Transfer)
Learn everything about your treatment
Learn everything about your treatment
60 to 180 minutes
Day case or one night
General anaesthetic or local anaesthetic with sedation
4 - 6 weeks
Breast enlargement fat transfer overview
What is a breast enlargement fat transfer?
A breast enlargement fat transfer, otherwise known as a lipoaugmentation, lipofilling, fat grafting or a fat transfer breast augmentation, is a procedure that aims to enhance the size and shape of your breasts by making them look fuller and more shapely.
What can a breast enlargement fat transfer achieve?
You may choose to have a breast enlargement fat transfer if you are looking to:
- Restore volume to your breasts following ageing, weight loss or pregnancy
- Improve the shape and contours of your breasts
- Balance any asymmetry of the breasts
- Boost your self-confidence.
Although a breast enlargement fat transfer can enhance the shape of the breasts, it cannot correct breasts that are severely sagging. The medical term for breast sagging is breast ptosis. A breast uplift, also called a mastopexy, may be a more appropriate procedure for patients with severe sagging. Your surgeon may also choose to combine your breast enlargement with an uplift in order to achieve the best result possible.
What are the advantages of having fat transfer over implants?
Breast enlargement fat transfer is a less invasive surgery than a breast enlargement using implants. Your surgeon does not need to make many cuts during your treatment. They will inject the fat into your breasts meaning you should a minimal amount of scarring, if any. Some people also find the results of a fat transfer to be more natural looking. Furthermore, breast enlargement fat transfer not only increases the size of your breasts, but it can help improve the symmetry and the shape of your breasts.
Finally, the technique of fat grafting also has the benefit of removing fat from other areas of the body by using liposuction. This means that you can improve the appearance of two parts of your body with just one procedure!
What are the disadvantages of having fat transfer over implants?
As with any technique, there are always some disadvantages. Compared to having implants, a breast enlargement fat transfer procedure can take longer to perform and maintain. Each session can take around 2 to 3 hours to complete and sometimes you may need multiple “top-up” sessions.
With each session, there is a limit on how much fat your surgeon can transfer into your breasts. This means that a fat transfer cannot match the same increase in volume that implants can achieve. It is also important to consider that in the first six months after surgery, your body may absorb up to 50% of the fat that is injected into the breast. This means that your surgeon cannot fully predict the final results.
Choosing a highly qualified BAAPS/BAPRAS surgeon will improve the chances of achieving the best results possible from your procedure.
Breast enlargement fat transfer candidates
Who are the best candidates for breast enlargement fat transfer?
A ‘boob job’ is the most popular cosmetic procedure. However, some women who are unhappy with the size of their breasts do not want to have breast implants. For these women, breast enlargement fat transfer is recommended. It transfers fat from other parts of your body such as the thighs, buttocks or stomach to your breasts, and can, therefore, solve two problems at once! Thus, the ideal breast enlargement fat transfer candidates are women who:
- Are unhappy with the size of their breasts.
- Dislike the shape or volume of their breasts.
- Have breasts that are different sizes.
- Wish to have a breast enlargement but do not want synthetic implants.
- Have had a large reduction in the size and volume of their breasts after weight loss or pregnancy.
- Are at a stable and healthy weight.
- Are emotionally ready for surgery.
As breast enlargement is a procedure that is individual to each patient. It is important that you think carefully and research well before choosing to have surgery.
Why have breast enlargement fat transfer?
There are many reasons why some women wish to have a breast enlargement fat transfer. A breast enlargement fat transfer can also help produce breasts that are more natural looking than those that have been enhanced with breast implants.
There are two main categories for wanting a breast enlargement:
This is often for patients who have had treatment for breast cancer or are looking for preventative cancer treatment options.
The majority of patients choose to have a breast enlargement for cosmetic purposes. Women may be unhappy with the shape, size or symmetry of their breasts and may, therefore, want to correct this. A breast enlargement can also help restore breast volume after pregnancy or major weight loss.
You will meet your BAAPS/ BAPRAS surgeon and discuss with them what you would like to achieve from your surgery. It is important that you are very clear and honest about what you wish to achieve so that your surgeon may be better able to help you achieve those goals.
Breast enlargement fat transfer procedure
How is a breast enlargement fat transfer procedure performed?
The breast enlargement fat transfer procedure usually takes between 60 to 180 minutes to perform. Before you come in for surgery, you will meet your Medbelle BAAPS/BAPRAS surgeon for a consultation. In this meeting, they will give you details of the surgery and instruct you on what to eat and drink the day before you come in. They will also give you advice on when to take your regular medications before the surgery.
Before you can have your surgery, you will need to sign a consent form. To be able to sign this confidently it is important that you know details of the benefits, risks, and complications of the surgery. Your surgeon will discuss all of these with you before the day of your treatment. Next, your surgeon will draw lines to mark out the treatment area and clarify any specific goals of the surgery.
On the day of your operation, you will be shown into the anaesthetic room. Here, your anaesthetist will give you either a general anaesthetic or a local anaesthetic. The choice of which method they will use depends on what you have agreed on with your surgeon.
3. Method of fat transfer
In the operating theatre, your surgeon will clean the treatment area and cover you with drapes. This is to keep the area sterile and reduce the risk of infection.
Breast enlargement fat transfer is a multi-step procedure. Firstly, your surgeon will remove fat from an agreed upon area of your body. This is done using liposuction. Your surgeon will often take the fat from your arms, stomach, thighs or buttocks. They will then purify that fat, and reinject it into your breasts to increase their size.
Sometimes, breast enlargement fat transfer can take place over multiple sessions, often up to three. The sessions are as follows:
The area that your surgeon will use for fat collection (usually your stomach or thighs) is injected with a “tumescence” solution. This solution contains medications that aim to reduce pain and bleeding during the procedure. Your surgeon will then perform liposuction and remove the fat from your body. This fat goes through a process of purification involving washing, processing and refinement. Next, your surgeon will inject the fat through a small plastic tube into the natural small hollows within the upper portion of your breasts. Thus resulting in the enlargement of the breasts.
After eight weeks, your surgeon can perform the first top-up. The fat that was taken from the first session of liposuction is adequate for the following sessions. Therefore, you do not have to undergo further liposuction. These top-up sessions only involve the injection of fat into your breasts.
Third & following sessions
Until you reach the result you desire, sessions can take place roughly every six months.
It is worth noting that it takes two and a half pints of fat to increase the breasts by one cup size. Each of your breasts can only hold one and a quarter pints of fat. Therefore, it is important that you keep your expectations of the procedure reasonable. Also, your surgeon may not be able to guarantee that you will go up a full breast size.
4. Closing of incisions
Your surgeon will place some strapping and tape on the small wounds from liposuction and fat insertion.
5. Return to the ward
You will then return to the ward to rest. You may find that you have some small drainage tubes under the skin of your breasts. These help further reduce swelling and bruising. Before you leave hospital, your surgeon should remove these.
Breast enlargement fat transfer consultation
What should I expect from my breast enlargement by fat transfer consultation?
Your breast enlargement fat transfer consultation will often last between 15 minutes to 1 hour. You will meet your BAAPS/BAPRAS surgeon for your consultation. The purpose of this consultation is to talk through your requirements for the procedure and your expectations. Consequently, in your consultation, your surgeon will consider the following to help determine the best surgical approach for you:
- Your current breast size and shape
- The breast size and shape you desire
- The quality and quantity of your breast tissue and skin
- Areas of the body which you would like to remove fat from.
Furthermore your surgeon will want to know the following:
- Your past medical conditions
- Your current health status
- Any previous history of breast disease
- If you have had chemotherapy or radiation to the breast tissue
- If you currently take any medications including herbal remedies
- Your current smoking status, alcohol intake or drug use
- Any allergies you may have.
Once you have discussed the above, your surgeon will then take the time to examine you and measure the size of your breasts. After examining you, they will be able to give you an idea of the breast size you can achieve through fat transfer. Furthermore, you can try on a wide range of sizers during the consultation to help you visualise the size you wish to achieve.
What questions should you ask during your breast enlargement fat transfer consultation?
To ensure you fully understand the procedure and decide if it is the right option for, there are a few questions that you may wish to ask your surgeon. These may include:
- Do you think what I wish to achieve from surgery is realistic?
- What do you expect of me to get the best results?
- What scars will I have? And where will I find them?
- Are there any alternatives to breast enlargement fat transfer?
- Have you performed this procedure before? Do you have any pictures?
Finally, it is very important that you are fully honest and open with your surgeon. This way, they can advise you on which is the best surgical approach for you and your breasts.
Breast enlargement fat transfer risks and complications
What are the main risks of breast enlargement by fat transfer?
All surgical procedures carry a potential for risks and complications. Therefore, it is not surprising that breast enlargement fat transfer does carry some risks. It is important that you are aware of these before you consent for the surgery. After your initial consultation, your BAAPS/BAPRAS surgeon will give you a two week ‘cooling off’ period. In this time you should familiarize yourself with some of the breast enlargement fat transfer risks. Furthermore, as your new breasts will be new to your body, there are also some complications that you should be aware of.
The potential breast enlargement fat transfer risks and complications include:
Fat necrosis and oil cysts
Fat necrosis occurs when injury is caused to fat cells and causes them to die. Oil cysts are the result of prematurely dying fat cells. There is a risk that these may occur to the fat transferred into your breasts. However, as these are well-known complications of breast fat transfer, they can be easily identified on ultrasound or mammogram. Because of this, there are treatments which can resolve these. It is worth noting however, that this only occurs in a very small number of patients. A good surgical technique can reduce the risk of this occurring. Therefore, it is important to choose a professional surgeon with plenty of experience in this field.
Bleeding & bruising
In any surgical procedure, there is always a risk of bleeding. This usually happens straight after the operation. However, very rarely it may occur up to two weeks later and the breasts may start to feel very swollen and tender. If this were the case, it is likely you will need to return to theatre. This may also require an extra night stay in hospital. You may also find there is an increase in bruising around the area. However, this should settle down over time and is very unlikely to affect the outcomes of surgery.
After a breast enlargement fat transfer there is a risk that you may develop an infection. It is important to take any infection seriously. In the event that an infection affects you, it will become apparent over the first two to three weeks post-op. The symptoms of infection often include your wound not healing as it should and an increase in the redness in the skin around the wound.
Mild infections mostly settle down with antibiotics.
There is always a risk that you are unhappy with the final result for aesthetic reasons. This may be with the shape, size or symmetry of your new breasts. Therefore, we advise you choose your surgeon carefully and make sure they fully understand your desired outcomes. Also, a breast enlargement fat transfer often requires multiple sessions. So, if you are unhappy after the first session, speak to your surgeon about arranging another session.
General surgical complications
Every surgery comes with a number of common risks. These include:
- Blood clot formation
- Anaesthetic risks
- Allergic reactions
- Post-operative pain.
Breast enlargement fat transfer preparation
How can I prepare for a breast enlargement fat transfer?
Once you have decided that you wish to go ahead with treatment, there are a few things that you can do in preparation that will make your recovery process easier after your procedure. Some of our breast enlargement fat transfer preparation tips include:
Smoking & alcohol
Smoking affects the way your body heals. Therefore, to help with a speedy recovery most surgeons recommend you are smoke and nicotine free for at least 6 weeks before the surgery. We also recommend that you cut down on alcohol in the weeks before and after your procedure.
Smoking, in particular, can increase the time it takes for your wounds to heal. This can also increase of an infection developing.
Before coming in for your procedure, you may find that doing the housework, laundry and taking the bins out before your surgery may be helpful. This way you can put your feet up and relax after surgery! You may also find it useful to take out mugs, plates and food cupboard items onto the work surface. This will ensure you are not reaching up and stretching your stitches.
You will be unable to drive yourself home after your procedure. This is because the medications your surgeon uses may cloud your judgement making it unsafe for you to drive. You should, therefore, ask a friend or relative to take you home. Furthermore, you will need adult supervision for the first 24 hours at home after your procedure. This is to ensure you are safe if you need help.
Food & shopping
After your surgery, you will not be able to lift heavy bags. Therefore, you may find it helpful to do a large food shop before you come into hospital. Some people also find it useful batch cooking some meals for the freezer.
You should try to maintain a well-balanced and healthy diet after surgery. This should be high in protein and low in sodium, sugars and fats. It is important that you drink lots of water and caffeine-free fluids.
Post-operative bra & clothing
In the first few days after your surgery, you should wear clothing that opens easily from the front. You may also find it useful to wear slip-on shoes so you do not strain yourself bending down. You will need to wear a post-operative bra after your procedure. Your surgeon will give you specific instructions on how long to wear this for.
Some people find it more comfortable sleeping propped up after surgery. Therefore, you may wish to have spare pillows ready for when you are home. You will also need to sleep on your back in the first few days to protect the stitches.
These are just some breast enlargement fat transfer preparation tips, your Medbelle BAAPS/BAPRAS surgeon will give you more specific advice and time-frames in regards to your preparation.
Breast enlargement fat transfer aftercare
What can I expect after a breast enlargement fat transfer?
During your consultation, your BAAPS/BAPRAS surgeon will talk you through what to expect after your operation. This will help you to feel a bit more at ease before coming into hospital. In this consultation, your surgeon will go through how much time you need to take off work, driving and exercise. The breast enlargement fat transfer aftercare advice and time frames are different for every surgeon. We have listed below some general advice and time frames, this may be different to what your surgeon recommends.
You will be unable to drive for 5 days to 2 weeks after your operation. Therefore, you may wish to ask someone to help you to get around.
After your procedure, you may need to spend one night in hospital. This is to ensure that you are recovering well. Before you leave, you will organise a follow-up appointment for two weeks time with your surgeon. In this appointment, they will check to see how you are recovering, replace any dressings and address any concerns. Your surgeon will also give you advice on any drains that may be left in after your surgery.
How much time do I need to take off work?
How long you need to take off work depends on the kind of work you do. If your work is physically demanding such as waitressing, you will need to take at least a week off work. Furthermore, when you do return to work you will need to start slowly. Otherwise, we recommend that you just take a few days off. This is to allow yourself some time to recover and rest. In every case, you need to avoid light duties for at least a week. Your surgeon will be able to tell you exactly how much time you need to take off work.
When can I return to sports and exercise?
During the first week of your recovery, you should be resting. You should not do any exercise at all. Aerobic exercise can increase the amount of swelling you experience. Furthermore, starting vigorous exercise too soon after your procedure can increase the risk of bleeding into the breasts. It is therefore vital that you rest to avoid this from occurring.
By the second week, you can start to partake in exercises that do not involve rigorous movements. This includes cycling and gentle walking.
After the second week, you should be able to return to all exercise and sports. Be careful with some contact sports as your breasts may still be sore.
The post-operative bra is an important part of your breast enlargement fat transfer aftercare. After your treatment, you will have to wear a post-operative bra to help you during your recovery and help achieve the best results possible. It can help reduce the swelling and bruising in your breasts. You will need to wear this every day and night for at least 1 week, and during the day for a total of 6 weeks. Your surgeon will give you specific instructions and time frames for how long you will need to wear this for.
What can I do to help my scars healing?
To aid your scars healing your surgeon may recommend a number of techniques for you to use. These include:
- Scar massage – Only start this once your incisions have fully healed and the scabs have disappeared on their own.
- Silicone sheets or scar gels – You can use these for six months to a year once your glue or tape is off and your incision has healed.
- Keeping your scars out of direct sunlight, as this will increase the colour difference between your skin and scars. If this is unavoidable, ensure you wear a high factor sunscreen.
As some people require multiple “top-up” sessions after their first procedure, it may take a while to see the full results from surgery. After each session, you may find that your breasts feel over-enlarged and heavy for the first 24 to 48 hours. This is due to swelling and wearing your post-operative bra can help to reduce this.
Furthermore, you may find that your breasts feel tender and swollen for several weeks after surgery. This can take several months to fully resolve. During this time you may also find that your nipples feel numb or overly-sensitive and your breasts may appear tight, too high or unnaturally round. This is all part of the recovery after surgery and will settle in a couple of months.
After 4 to 6 weeks, your body should have healed enough to see the full permanent results of your breast enlargement and feel well in your new self. However, especially with the potential of multiple sessions, it may take up to 12 months for everything to completely get back to normal.
Strictly following your surgeon’s breast enlargement fat transfer aftercare advice can help you achieve the best results from your procedure.
Breast enlargement fat transfer FAQs
What are some common breast enlargement fat transfer FAQs?
Can I still breastfeed after surgery?
Although uncommon, some women struggle to breastfeed and may produce less milk after an enlargement procedure. On average, there is a very high chance that you will be able to breastfeed. This is assuming you were able to breastfeed before the surgery.
If you’ve just had a baby and are breastfeeding at present, your surgeon may require you to stop breastfeeding for 3 to 6 months before surgery. This is in order to allow the breasts to settle before your procedure. This is something to consider when timing your surgery.
What are the effects of smoking, alcohol and drugs?
Smoking greatly increases the risk of complications during and after surgery. Nearly all plastic surgeons advise you to be smoke and nicotine free for at least six weeks to 3 months before surgery.
Drinking alcohol, being overweight and taking drugs for medical or other reasons also increases the risk of complications occurring. Therefore, before you come in for surgery you should try and reduce these.
Do I need a GP referral for cosmetic surgery?
In most cases, you will not need to give your surgeon a GP referral if you are looking to have cosmetic treatment. If you do decide to go ahead with surgery, your surgeon may ask your permission to contact your GP. This would be to gain access to your medical records so they can best handle your care.
What effect has weight gain or loss after a breast enlargement?
Significant weight gain or loss may affect the appearance of your breasts in general. Sometimes the new fat in your breasts can still behave as it would have from its original site. In other words, if it would lose volume with weight loss when it was in the abdomen it will still lose volume when it is in the breasts.
Every woman is individual and therefore it is difficult to predict how a specific lady’s breasts will change with weight loss.
Does breast fat transfer effect mammograms?
There is no question that fat grafting causes changes (such as calcification) that are visible on mammograms. There is a lot of evidence that those changes are the same as changes seen from other breast surgery, such as reductions. Most trained radiologists are able to determine the differences between postoperative changes and breast cancer changes. It may be important when attending a mammogram to tell your radiologist about the procedure you have had.