Fat grafting, also known as fat transfer, fat injections and lipofilling, has long been used to smooth sunken areas on the face and to add fullness to the cheeks and lips. It is also frequently used after mastectomy, usually in conjunction with either implant or autologous tissue reconstruction for fine-tuning breast contour abnormalities and improving the overall cosmetic results.
Fat grafting can be used to:
- Fill in areas of indentation left by the mastectomy
- Add volume to a breast reconstructed with natural tissue
- Smooth areas that have an irregular contour or are depressed, or to better sculpt the shape of a reconstructed breast
- Reconstruct small lumpectomy defects
- Mask the rippling or palpable edge of implants
- Improve the texture of skin following radiation and release scarred tissue
- Help restore a more natural transition between the upper chest and a reconstructed breast
- Improve the thickness and quality of radiation-damaged tissue and skin
Fat grafting is an outpatient surgical procedure that involves moving fat by means of gentle liposuction-like approach from areas such as the waist, abdomen or buttocks; then having it purified and injected to a reconstructed breast. There are several fat grafting techniques used by plastic surgeons. However, there is no “set way” that has been shown to be the best in terms of long-term results. Regardless of technique, some of the injected fat will be reabsorbed over time, but this can vary. Patients must therefore be prepared to undergo more than one procedure for the best results.
Fat grafting is a non-invasive procedure. Only tiny incisions are necessary as the entire procedure uses only very narrow cannulas and needles. As a result, scarring is minimized, and often almost undetectable. Furthermore, since fat is obtained from areas where it is unwanted, many people experience enhanced appearance at the donor site. Recovery time is minimal, and most patients can return to work and/or other non-strenuous activities the day following the procedure.
Risks & Complications
All patients must understand and accept that no surgical procedure is absolutely free from risk. For further information concerning the risks and complications associated with Fat Grafting for Breast Reconstruction, please refer to Risks and Complications of Fat Grafting.