Breast Reconstruction

The use of fat grafting techniques in breast surgery is increasing. In fact, according to a recent survey by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, almost 70 percent of U.S. plastic surgeons report using a patient’s own fatty tissue to improve results in breast procedures. Most of the surgeons using fat grafting are doing so in breast reconstruction procedures. These surgeons will use a patient’s own fat to help them reconstruct or repair the breast after a mastectomy or lumpectomy has been performed to treat breast cancer.1

Fat grafting with breast implants

If a woman decides to have her breasts reconstructed using breast implants, her plastic surgeon may recommend the use of fat grafting to help improve overall cosmetic results. For example, fat grafting techniques can be a useful tool to help surgeons increase volume or correct deformities in the reconstructed breasts.

Fat grafting with Flap procedures

Breast reconstruction with flap surgery is a type of breast reconstruction that involves taking a section of tissue from one area of your body and relocating it to create a new breast mound.

Breast reconstruction with flap surgery is a complex procedure performed by a plastic surgeon. Plastic surgeons may use fat grafting techniques to help them shape the breast and achieve a more natural-looking appearance.

Reconstruction after lumpectomy

Fat grafting techniques can be used to fill the “divot” where breast tissue was removed during lumpectomy. It can be used to improve the look of the breast.

What are the risks of fat grafting?2

  • Fat cells removed from one body site and injected into another do not always survive.  Multiple fat grafting sessions may be required to achieve your desired volume enhancement. 
  • You will need to have an adequate supply of excess fat for the procedure.  While results may be immediately visible, swelling may take several months to resolve.
  • Fat injected into the breast may be absorbed by the body, may become liquid and form a cyst, may calcify, or may produce scarring.
  • Fat grafting may also produce changes in the breast that may be deemed suspicious during examination by a physician or on mammography, and may lead to further testing to determine if the findings are related to breast cancer.
  • Some common adverse effects associated with autologous fat transfer are asymmetry, over- and/or under-correction of the treatment site, tissue lumps, bleeding and scarring.
  • Autologous fat grafting should not be performed in the presence of any disease process that adversely affects wound healing, and in patients who are in poor overall health.

1 Kling RE, et al. Trends in Autologous Fat Grafting to the Breast: A National Survey of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery®: Journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. July 2013 (1): 35-46