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Breast Fat Grafting St. Louis

Not every woman that is unhappy with the size and shape of her breasts wants to have an implant augmentation. Other times a woman may have subtle contour irregularities to her breast that need customized enhancement. Enter fat grafting to the breasts. This newer technique has revolutionized all aspects of breast care, and is routinely used by our surgeons to help correct breast asymmetries, add additional cleavage, or put the finishing touches on a breast reconstruction.

Fat grafting allows our surgeons to gently liposuction fat from one area of the body, process it in a special way, and then delicately transfer these cells to a different area of the body. Approximately 50-80% of these fat cells survive the transfer process, and become permanent residents volumizing this new location. The fat cells can be harvested from all over the body, with typical donor sites including the abdomen, flanks, thighs, and outer chest wall. Fat transfer to the breasts can assist with more subtle increase in breast size, and help smooth contours for a very natural breast appearance.

Your surgeons will determine how much fat needs to be transferred and discuss with you stubborn areas you may desire to donate fat cells from. They deliver the fat in small aliquots, or tiny channels, which enhances the fat survival and produces consistent, reliable results. For larger volume needs or areas with minimal native tissue to transfer into, more than one round of fat grafting may be needed.

QUICK FACTS:

  • Length: 1-2 hours
  • Anesthesia: General
  • Outpatient
  • Can be combined with almost any surgery
  • Recovery: 3-7 days
  • Side Effects: bruising, swelling, firmness, oil cyst or calcifications, resorption

FAT GRAFTING TO THE BREASTS CAN IMPROVE:

  • Loss of volume in the breasts
  • Breast asymmetry
  • Hypomastia (small breasts)
  • Thickness under the skin in a breast reconstruction or augmentation
  • Contour irregularities from prior breast procedures or scarring

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PREPARING FOR FAT GRAFTING

Any medications and supplements which cause an increased risk of bleeding should be stopped 2 weeks prior to any major surgery. Please see our list of medications and supplements to avoid. As always, make sure to check with your doctor before stopping any medications.

FAT GRAFTING TECHINQUE:

Your surgeon will mark areas of planned fat harvest and sites where the fat will be grafted while you are in the preoperative holding area. During the operation, small incisions approximately ¼ to ½ inch will be made so a special numbing fluid can be infiltrated. Your surgeons will then gently aspirate the fat using thin metal wands and ensure a smooth contour to the donor site. The fat will be processed to optimize survival, and then re-injected into the breast areas by a tiny needle-sized access sites. Once the fat has been delivered to the new area in the desired shape and volume, your incisions will be closed with sutures and dressings will be placed. You may or may not have an abdominal binder placed, depending on the volume of fat harvested. Depending on the volume of transferred fat needed in each area, more than one session of fat grafting may be needed.

RECOVERY FROM FAT GRAFTING

Areas where the fat was suctioned from will be sore, but not overly painful. You will likely have some swelling and bruising in these areas that will resolve over the next 1-2 weeks. This can be minimized with compression to the area, either a binder if placed at the time of surgery, or gentle compression garments such as Spanx. Minimize heavy lifting or straining for the first week after surgery, but then you can resume more normal activities and exercise. Areas where the fat was grafted into often have bruising, swelling, and even a little redness. This is normal part of the transfer process and should improve over 1-2 weeks. You will need to support the breasts with your postoperative bra at all times other than bathing.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Do you Have a Question?

A: In order for the fat to survive the transfer and grow a new blood supply to support the cells, it needs to be delivered in small tunnels and droplets. Thus, the amount your surgeon can safely transfer and expect to thrive will depend on the tissue bed he is grafting into. More volume can be placed into a breast for augmentation purposes than can be placed between the skin and underlying implant after a breast reconstruction. The increase in size while be noticeable, but not as dramatic as with an implant.
A: Usually 50-80% of the fat transferred survives, and will become a permanent part of the body in this new area. Most of the fat cells that don’t survive the transfer get absorbed by the body. Occasionally oil cysts, firm areas, or calcifications can occur which may improve with time and massage. If persistent, these areas can be treated surgically.
A: This is a common comment encountered when discussing fat grafting, and the answer unfortunately is no. Only your own fat cells can be used for transfer.

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