by Cosmetic Surgeon, Dr. Nerina Wilkinson
Breast enlargement without implants… Yes, this is the latest trend when it comes to naturally beautiful breasts!
I often see patients who ask: “Can I improve the shape and size of my breasts without silicone breast implants? “ The question is, would you love to have breast enlargement surgery but don’t feel comfortable with conventional breast augmentation surgery? Are you uncomfortable with the idea of having breast implants? Do you only really want to gain a cup size or perfectly fill your swimming costume? If you’ve answered yes to any of these, then breast enhancement by means of fat transfer might be the ideal solution for you. Fat transfer to the breast, also referred to as minimally invasive breast enhancement or breast fat grafting, is becoming an increasingly popular form of natural breast enlargement without implants in my practice.
Table of contents
- WHAT IS NATURAL BREAST ENHANCEMENT?
- IS BREAST FAT GRAFTING BECOMING MORE POPULAR?
- HOW DOES BREAST FAT GRAFTING WORK?
- HOW IS BREAST FAT GRAFTING SURGERY PERFORMED?
- WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF BREAST FAT GRAFTING?
- THE DRAWBACKS: NATURAL BREAST ENLARGEMENT VS BREAST IMPLANTS
- AM I A GOOD CANDIDATE FOR NATURAL BREAST ENLARGEMENT?
- WHEN IS BREAST FAT GRAFTING NOT SUITABLE?
- CAN BREAST FAT GRAFTING LIFT SAGGING BREASTS?
- CAN YOU COMBINE FAT GRAFTING WITH BREAST IMPLANT SURGERY?
- WHEN WILL I SEE MY BREAST FAT GRAFTING RESULTS?
- IS NATURAL BREAST ENHANCEMENT THE NEW NORMAL?
WHAT IS NATURAL BREAST ENLARGEMENT?
Natural breast enlargement is a surgical procedure known as breast lipofilling/fat grafting. This procedure uses your own body fat (rather than silicone or saline breast implants,) to enhance and replace the loss or lack of volume and change your breast size. This procedure is a new alternative to breast augmentation surgery, and as said before, is becoming increasingly popular! Although not ideal for those who are interested in gaining quite a few cup sizes, breast fat grafting can improve breast shape, increase symmetry, and give you a modest breast size increase without breast implants and scarring.
IS BREAST FAT GRAFTING BECOMING MORE POPULAR?
Over the past 8 years, numerous studies have seen a 35 % increase in women requesting natural breast enlargement over conventional breast augmentation surgery with breast implants. I, personally, have always advised my patients requesting breast enhancement surgery to choose an implant that fits their body shape, and not to conform to an external ideal that is not necessarily suitable to their own shape and form. I am therefore excited to see an increased interest in breast enhancement surgery with fat grafting as the results are so beautifully natural!
HOW DOES BREAST FAT GRAFTING WORK?
Fat is removed from a part of your body that has abundant unwanted fat deposits; what a bonus! This fat is then purified through a specific technique and then injected into the breasts to achieve the desired contouring. The goal is to give fullness to the breasts achieving a more youthful state, however, in addition to adding volume, the fat is extremely rich in stem cells! Stem cells are known as “the fountain of youth” and help to stimulate many other cells in the body to improve their functions for a healthier more rejuvenated appearance. (Think improved skin quality in breasts with stretchmarks).
HOW IS BREAST FAT GRAFTING SURGERY PERFORMED?
Once the harvesting area is selected, the fat is harvested in the theatre under local anaesthetic or sedation. When larger volumes are required for breast augmentation then the abdomen and flanks are good fat donor areas. The fat is harvested using a small blunt cannula and is then cleaned and centrifuged. The procedure is a form of liposculpting where the shape of the body is changed by removing fat from one area and sculpting/ augmenting another area.
The breasts are then anaesthetized and the fat is precisely injected into the area. The amount injected into each area is always more than required, as the body will reabsorb about 40-50% of the fat injected, so it is important to overcompensate. A breast fat grafting procedure can take anywhere from 1 – 3 hours depending on the areas requiring grafting.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF BREAST FAT GRAFTING?
One of the biggest benefits is that natural breast enlargement without implants is exactly that, all-natural; you are not placing any foreign body in your breasts, and you also don’t have to be concerned about any potential risks associated with silicone breast implants. Scars are almost invisible as the harvested fat is injected through very small incisors that are well hidden, and your breasts will look and (more importantly) feel totally natural. The amazing added bonus is that breast enhancement with lipofilling uses unwanted fatty deposits in other places of your body that you have been struggling to lose through diet and exercise. What a win!
THE DRAWBACKS: NATURAL BREAST ENLARGEMENT VS BREAST IMPLANTS
Fluctuating weight can affect your breast fat grafting result. The best results are seen in patients who maintain a stable weight post-procedure. Fat cells fluctuate with your body’s weight and therefore a large weight gain or weight loss will result in breast size fluctuations. With breast implant surgery, the size of your breasts will not greatly be affected by significant weight gain or weight loss.
Long-term volume may also not be 100 % predictable with breast fat grafting. Fat is a delicate substance and some cells don’t survive the transfer process. Additionally, your body may absorb a percentage of the transferred fat over time. Because of these two factors, you’ll probably lose some of the volume transferred to your breasts post-procedure and therefore a secondary fat transfer can be used to compensate for this volume loss if needed.
You will need some fat stores to harvest for the lipofilling of the breasts. If you are thin then you may not have enough fat for a natural breast augmentation, so in this situation, a silicone breast augmentation might be more suitable to achieve your desired result.
AM I A GOOD CANDIDATE FOR NATURAL BREAST ENLARGEMENT?
Many patients are good candidates for breast fat grafting but remember it won’t work for everyone.
Fat grafting is fabulous for enhancing your breasts if you are looking to increase your breast size by about ½ – 1 cup size. It is also ideal if you want to restore your breast shape, or improve your cleavage. It is also a great option for women who want to address minor breast asymmetry. It is also a procedure I perform as breast augmentation revision when women have surface irregularities caused by implant rippling. Fat grating is then used to mask visible implant edges, giving it a much more natural-looking appearance.
To be a great candidate for breast enlargement without implants, you also need to have enough fat available for harvesting from the hips, belly, or thighs (for example), to ensure enough fat is available to achieve your desired result.
WHEN IS BREAST FAT GRAFTING NOT SUITABLE?
If you are interested in a greater enhancement of more than 1 cup size, you can have multiple breast fat grafting procedures should additional fat donor sites be available to harvest the additional fat required, but it is important to note that these cannot be performed at the same time and will have to take place over a period of time. If you definitely only want one procedure done and/or a much larger breast enlargement, it is best to consider other traditional breast augmentation procedures such as breast implant surgery.
CAN BREAST FAT GRAFTING LIFT SAGGING BREASTS?
A very important point is that neither breast fat grafting nor traditional breast augmentation will lift a sagging breast. Fat transfer can add fullness and volume to the breasts, but if you have loose skin due to breastfeeding or weight loss (for example) then breast lift surgery will be required to get the breast lift results you desire. Combining a breast lift with fat grafting is one of my preferred procedures for patients wanting their breasts lifted, but who also want more fullness in the upper poles of their breasts.
CAN YOU COMBINE FAT GRAFTING WITH BREAST IMPLANTS?
Yes, you definitely can! While this procedure is only now really trending, I’ve been optimizing breast implant results with fat grafting for years. I often use fat grafting to add a more natural-looking roundness to the upper pole of the breast (the quadrant above the nipple) or to increase the appearance of cleavage between the breasts. It’s also a great option for augmented women who wish they had chosen larger breast implants and want to boost their size without replacing their implants.
It is important to understand that breasts cannot be significantly reshaped with fat grafting alone. Compared to breast implants, fat transfer adds a more modest fullness and, because fat cells lack structure, they can’t create the rounded breast shape we can achieve with breast implants. If you are looking for the shaping qualities of implants or want to go up more than one cup size, we recommend considering breast implants instead.
WHEN WILL I SEE MY BREAST FAT GRATING RESULTS?
Most patients are discharged on the same day as the surgery on painkillers and antibiotics. A compression bandage is worn on the harvested area for a week to decrease swelling and bruising. Even though results will be visible immediately, extensive swelling and bruising can be expected for 1 – 2 weeks. The final results (after some of the fat has been reabsorbed) will be apparent by 6 – 12 weeks post-procedure.
IS NATURAL BREAST ENHANCEMENT THE NEW NORMAL?
Prosthetic breast implants have been the golden standard for decades. With that being said, there is a continued rise in women looking for breast enhancement surgery without the possible complications of breast implants. Breast fat grafting is a natural breast enhancement procedure and is a safe and predictable procedure resulting in naturally perky, beautiful breasts.
Written by Dr. Nerina Wilkinson