Breast reconstruction with fat transfer


In sporadic cases, a reasonable option is to reconstruct the breast using fat transfer. Fat is harvested with liposuction from other parts of your body (e.g., abdomen, thighs, hips, buttocks). It is then processed into a liquid form and injected into the breast area to recreate the shape of the breast in a process called lipofilling. Your body will eventually reabsorb some of the fat, meaning some of the initial volume is lost. Therefore multiple procedures are often necessary to achieve the desired volume of the breast.

However, this can be a preferable method of reconstruction for women after lumpectomy or partial breast removal, who only need small corrections in shape and volume. Additional advantage prevents the scarless improvement of body contour in the donor areas achieved with liposuction.

This technique is also used frequently to improve the quality of the scar tissue damaged by irradiation or to augment the subcutaneous tissue layer over the silicone implant, thereby improving the result.

Only very small and non- ptotic breasts can be reconstructed using fat transfer after mastectomy. Usually, multiple sessions are needed to achieve the appropriate breast volume. However, the use of a negative pressure system called BRAVA and advances in fat processing make it a very promising technique that is gaining popularity during the recent years.

General information

Surgery duration: 1 - 3 hours

Average hospital stay: 1-2 days

Total recovery time: 3 weeks

When would I be able to move about, walk and drive? 

After about 1 week, but depends on the difficulty of the surgery.

When would I be able to exercise again? 

After about 5 weeks.

Where will the scars be on my body? 

No major scars will be present, only a few short (3mm) incision points around the breast and donor sites, used to insert the cannula for either liposuction or lipofilling.

Compression garments and bra?

A compression garment for the donor area must be worn for 5 weeks after the procedure.

Will I need any additional procedures?

Depending on the amount of tissue needed, the procedure might have to be repeated several times.

Which are most common technique-related complications?

  • Fat necrosis with palpable hard lumps
  • Fat embolism of vital organs
  • Fat reabsorption leaving an unsatisfactory aesthetic result

How does the procedure look like?

The procedure can be done in local or general anesthesia, depending on the amount of transferred fat. At first, liposuction is performed. A tumescent solution (a mixture of saline, adrenaline and local anesthetic) is infiltrated under your skin on donor sites, minimising blood loss. Frequent donor sites are abdomen, buttocks, hips, thighs or any body part where subcutaneous fat is abundant. Fat is then grafted using vacuum assisted suction through small incision sites. It is processed into a liquid form consisting of fat cells. A second part of the procedure called lipofilling follows, during which fat is injected into the breast area, achieving appropriate shape, volume, and projection that mimics the breast shape.

In case only smaller contour correction after lumpectomy is necessary, fat is only injected into parts of the breast needed to correct the unevenness. Some of the fat cells will eventually be reabsorbed by your body so that the result will be a little different than immediately after the procedure. Nonetheless, additional corrections using fat transfer can be done anytime later on if needed.

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