Posted June 03, 2019 in Fat Transfer Breast Augmentation
This is a very interesting question. Fat grafting, the ability to liposuction fat from a region of the body and inject into it another region of the body is a current reality and being used for cosmetic and reconstructive surgery. The objective of fat grafting is to transfer fat volume and for the stems cells that constitute about 10% of transferred fat graft to heal and rejuvenate. Dr. K in Houston, TX commonly uses fat grafting to augment the breasts and buttocks as well as in the face to restore the volume of a youthful face and to assist in repair of damage to the skin that occurs with aging.
One of the most growing and debated areas is to use fat graft to augment breast size, either instead of breast implants or along with implants. Although fat grafting to the breast for cosmetic purposes has been used in Europe by a few surgeons for more than 20 years there have been concerns whether the injection of fat and the stem cells that accompany the lipoaspirate may lead to the recurrence of breast cancer or to a new breast cancer. There has been absolutely no clinical evidence that this has ever occurred. Despite the absence of clinical case occurrences, some plastic surgeons, breast surgeons, and others have been skeptical.
To allay these fears Dr. K published a landmark paper in the Journal of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery in February 2016, which was the largest matched-controlled study showing that fat injected into the breasts does not lead to the recurrence of breast in patients who have had breast cancer, not lead to breast cancer in women who have never had breast cancer, and even in women who are carriers of the BRCA gene mutations (See Attachment). So, Dr. K concluded that fat grafting for cosmetic breast augmentation and breast reconstruction is safe.
Now let’s discuss whether breast implants will become a thing of the past! One of the biggest challenges Dr. K faces with fat grafting is the inability to store the liposuctioned fat, meaning when Dr. K liposuctions fat, he must inject all of the fat right away and he can not store it to inject additional fat at another later time. However, there is a lot of research trying to make the ability to store fat graft a reality in the future.
Another consideration is how much fat can be injected into a breast at one time and how much of the fat will stay in the long term. This is variable depending on the breast size and other factors but the important point is that it is limited. The limitation is that every injected fat cell must be adjacent to a blood supply within the breast so the the fat cell graft will take and receive blood supply with oxygen and other the important elements for fat graft cell survive. Within the fat graft that gets reinjected is also blood vessel tissue and the stem cells, also critical components that lead to new blood vessel formation and formation of new fat cells, respectively.
In Dr. K’s practice, located in Houston, TX, patients with moderate-to-large amounts of body fat are ideal for breast augmentation with fat only. Patients with moderate amounts of fat who just want larger-sized breasts, not necessarily very large breasts are optimal candidates. Patients with small amounts of body fat are good candidates for a combination of breast implants and fat grafting. This allows for a more natural breast augmentation because Dr. K can place a layer of fat overlying the breast implants for a more natural texture and appearance.
Dr. K uses fat grafting in the breasts to be able to place smaller sized breast implants, which Dr. K believes is going to be the near-future trend. This allows for smaller breast implants because part of the augmentation is the patients own fat tissue contributing to the increase in breast size. The fat graft also assists in rejuvenation of the breast skin texture and appearance.
To conclude, for the near-future women who just want larger breasts, not necessary large breasts who have a small to moderate amount of body fat, are ideal for breast fat grafting alone. Patients who want to have large breasts or be significantly larger with small to moderate amount of body fat, Dr. K will use a combination of a smaller-sized breast implant along with breast fat grafting. And, patients with a large amount of body fat who have small breasts, Dr. K can create a large breast augmentation with fat graft alone, however it usually will take several short-surgical procedures to achieve the desired result.
In the longer-term future, there are several potential options that may come to avail. The ability to harvest (liposuction of all of your excess body fat) and store fat and inject the stored fat into your breasts or other body regions as needed. This approach also allows for serial injections into the breasts that will enhance fat graft take (obtaining a small supply and stay long term) due to the limited amount of fat graft take that can occur with each injection session.
In the even-longer-term future, Dr K will most likely be able to remove your stem cells and blood cell tissue from your liposuctioned fat and grow only these components in his laboratory and reinject these components only to augment body regions and to rejuvenate aging regions of your body, especially the face.