Breast Implants vs Breast Fat Grafting: How to Decide

Breast Implants vs Breast Fat Grafting: How to Decide

by Cosmetic Breast Surgery Expert, Dr Nerina Wilkinson

Think of that “Wonderbra moment” where you may have wished you were blessed with just a little more cleavage and how that moment gave you a sense of renewed confidence. It’s true… At some point, many women consider enhancing the size of their breasts.

In my practice as a female plastic surgeon, breast enhancement has gained remarkable popularity. Often a woman’s self-perception deeply influences her self-esteem and sense of femininity. Whether addressing the size, shape, or symmetry of the breasts, these breast surgery procedures often lead to a significant boost in self-esteem, helping women feel more comfortable and confident in their bodies.

Breast enhancement procedures have seen a surge in popularity due to the ability to cater to individual needs and desired outcomes. Advancements in technology and surgical techniques have also improved safety and efficiency, making these surgeries more accessible and appealing to more women.

These procedures have now evolved to offer a wide range of options, from breast implants to breast fat transfer, allowing for more informed choices when choosing to enhance your breasts. But which option is best for you?

Choosing between breast implants and breast fat grafting is a multifaceted decision that focuses on your personal goals and expected outcomes. Therefore, today we are covering my top seven considerations to aid you in making an informed choice, harmonizing scientific surgical techniques with personal considerations, and ensuring that your decision aligns with your desires and lifestyle.

These considerations encompass envisioning size and shape, understanding recovery, assessing costs, contemplating longevity, addressing aesthetic concerns, accounting for potential changes in breastfeeding, and consulting with an experienced breast surgeon.

Let’s dive into my top 7 considerations before embarking on your breast enhancement journey.

Table of contents

    1. Consider the Desired Size and Shape
    2. Understand the Recovery and Aftercare
    3. Breast Enhancement Surgery Costs
    4. Longevity, maintenance, and reversibility
    5. Scarring and Aesthetic Post-procedure Concerns
    6. Navigating Breastfeeding after Breast Enhancement Surgery
    7. Working With an Experienced Breast Surgeon
    8. Final Thoughts

1. Consider the Desired Size and Shape

When contemplating breast enhancement, the first step involves envisioning the desired size and shape of your breasts. Achieving a breast profile that aligns with your personal preferences and lifestyle is a pivotal aspect of breast surgery. It’s essential to recognize that the decision to enhance your breasts is an opportunity for personalization and comfort.

There are two primary enhancement options available: breast implants and breast fat grafting, each offering distinct advantages.

Breast Implants: Tailored Size and Firmness

Breast augmentation with implants provides a structured approach to augmentation, allowing for a wide variety of sizes and firmness options. Today, most breast implants are silicone implants that contain a cohesive silicone gel. These implants are engineered to feel and look like a natural breast. Predictability of size outcomes with breast implants vs fat grafting is a key advantage, enabling you to choose the exact specifications that best complement your body and meet your aesthetic goals.

What to know more about breast implants? Read our blog about Everything You Need To Know About Breast Implants.

Breast augmentation with breast implants

Breast Fat Grafting: Natural Contour and Feel

On the other hand, breast fat grafting offers a more natural approach by using your body’s own fat, ensuring biocompatibility. This procedure involves liposuction from a donor area, providing the dual benefit of slimming the donor site while augmenting the breasts. The fat is processed and then injected into the breasts, enhancing their contour and feel. The naturalness of this procedure appeals to those seeking a much smaller augmentation i.e. maximum 1 cup size, as well as the added advantage of body contouring through fat removal.

2. Understand the Recovery and Aftercare

Recovery after breast enhancement surgery is a crucial phase in your journey to achieve your desired results. It’s important to understand that each procedure, whether it’s breast implants or breast fat grafting, comes with its unique healing timeline.

Breast Implants Surgery Recovery and Aftercare

Recovery after breast implant surgery varies but generally involves a few weeks for most patients.  Following breast implant surgery, activity limitations are important during recovery to facilitate proper healing. These restrictions are critical to prevent complications and ensure that your body adjusts to the implants as intended.

Additionally, you need to be aware of any potential complications such as a capsule contracture, where scar tissue forms around the implant.

Breast Fat Grafting Recovery and Aftercare

Recovery following breast fat grafting is also a process that unfolds over several weeks. Following post-operative instructions, such as avoiding strenuous activities and adhering to any recommended lifestyle changes, plays a pivotal role in the success of fat grafting procedures and the ultimate survival of the grafted fat. Swelling and bruising of the breasts and the donor area can extend for 3-6 weeks. It may also take about 3 months before you can appreciate the survival of the transplanted fat, and in turn, enjoy the final results of your procedure.

3. Breast Enhancement Surgery Costs

Embarking on the journey to achieve your ideal breast silhouette is an exciting endeavour. However, it’s crucial to be informed about the potential expenses associated with breast enhancement.

The Cost of Breast Implants

Breast implant surgery costs can vary based on several factors, including the surgeon’s expertise, the type of implant chosen, and the clinic costs. It’s important to understand that in addition to the core surgical cost, there may be additional expenses for anaesthesia, medications, and post-operative visits, all of which contribute to the total cost.

The average cost for breast augmentation (as listed in 2023) is +/- R 80 000 – R 90 000.

The Cost of Breast Fat Grafting

The cost of breast fat grafting can vary depending on several factors. One significant factor is the volume of fat transferred, as more extensive liposuction and grafting procedures may incur higher costs. It’s essential to recognize that breast fat grafting involves a dual procedure, combining liposuction for fat removal with the augmentation itself. This dual nature of the procedure has cost implications.

A broad cost estimate (as listed in 2023) is +/- R 95 000 – R 105 000.

4. Longevity, maintenance, and reversibility

When considering any breast enhancement procedures, it’s essential to contemplate not only the immediate results but also how long the results last and the potential maintenance that may be required. Additionally, you also need to understand the possibility of reversing or altering the outcomes as preferences evolve or the body changes with age specifically menopause.

Longevity and Maintenance of Breast Implants

Breast implants, while long-lasting, may not be permanent. They typically have a lifespan of a decade. Over time, they may need replacement or revision. Potential reasons for implant replacement or maintenance include changes in breast shape, implant rupture, or the desire for a different size or type of implant. This emphasizes the importance of regular follow-ups with your surgeon to monitor the condition of your implants and ensure that they continue to meet your expectations.

Longevity and Maintenance of Breast Fat Grafting

Breast fat grafting offers a different perspective on longevity. Since it utilizes your own fat, the results are generally more permanent. However, it’s crucial to understand that the body naturally reabsorbs some of the transferred fat over time, potentially affecting the results. In such cases, touch-up procedures may be beneficial to maintain the desired breast shape and size.

5. Scarring and Aesthetic Post-procedure Concerns

As you embark on your journey of breast enhancement, it’s crucial to be aware of the potential scarring and aesthetic considerations associated with each procedure.

Breast Implant Scarring

Scarring following breast implant surgery can vary depending on the chosen incision method. The two primary incision locations include periareolar (around the areola) and inframammary (in the breast fold).  Each method results in distinct scarring patterns, and your choice of incision should align with your aesthetic goals It’s important to note that scar treatment options are available, and over time, these scars tend to fade beautifully. Recovery plays a significant role in how well your scars heal, emphasizing the importance of your post-operative care.

Breast Fat Grafting Scarring

In contrast, breast fat grafting typically results in minimal scarring due to the use of small cannulas for fat transfer. The tiny incisions used for liposuction and fat injection typically leave scars that are inconspicuous and tend to fade over time. While fat grafting minimizes scarring on the breasts themselves, it’s essential to consider potential scarring from the liposuction donor sites, although these scars are generally small and discreet.

6. Navigating Breastfeeding after Breast Enhancement Surgery

Breastfeeding is a significant concern for many women who have undergone cosmetic breast procedures and is often a question I am asked during a breast enhancement consultation.

Breastfeeding After Breast Implants

Breast implants can influence breastfeeding potential, primarily depending on implant placement, whether they are positioned over or under the muscle. While most women with breast implants can successfully breastfeed, there may be potential concerns or challenges to consider These can include reduced milk supply or nipple sensitivity.

The exact impact varies among individuals and may be influenced by factors such as the surgical technique and the type of implant used. It’s crucial to discuss these concerns with your surgeon to make an informed decision that aligns with your family planning goals.

Breastfeeding After Breast Fat Grafting

Breast fat grafting offers a more natural approach with minimal impact on milk ducts. Since the procedure preserves the natural structure of the breast, breastfeeding ability is likely to be maintained.. This approach may be particularly appealing to individuals who prioritize preserving their ability to breastfeed in the future.

7. Working With an Experienced Breast Surgeon

One of the most critical steps in your breast enhancement journey is to consult with an experienced breast surgeon. This consultation is not just a formality; it is a pivotal moment where your individual needs and goals are addressed, and a personalized plan is created to achieve the results you desire.

Tailored Guidance for Individual Needs and Goals

During your consultation, you have the opportunity to discuss your unique aspirations, concerns, and expectations. An experienced breast surgeon will listen attentively, taking the time to understand your desires and guide you toward the procedure that best suits your goals and lifestyle. This personalized approach ensures that your breast enhancement is not just a physical transformation but a realization of your inner vision of what you desire your breast shape and size to be.

Selecting a Surgeon with Excellence, Credentials, and Experience

Choosing the right surgeon is paramount to your breast enhancement journey. Seek a surgeon who offers a variety of breast enhancement options, as their expertise in both implants and fat grafting provides you with a broader range of choices and insights.

Final Thoughts

The key to achieving your desired breast enhancement outcome lies in a thorough consultation. Your individual needs and body type play a crucial role in determining the best approach for you. A consultation with an experienced breast surgeon allows for a personalized assessment, ensuring that your breast enhancement aligns perfectly with your goals and lifestyle.

When choosing between breast implants and breast fat grafting, it’s vital to consider not only the immediate results but also the long-term effects of each procedure. Your decision should be not just for today but for the years to come. Think about how you want to feel in your body, not just in the present, but well into the future.

Your journey to deciding on whether to augment the size of your breasts with an implant or your own fat should be a reflection of your individuality, a step towards the confident and empowered self you deserve to be.

And if after all this information you still don’t know what to choose then there’s always the intriguing possibility of a “hybrid” breast augmentation. In a world where hybrid solutions are at the forefront of innovation, much like hybrid cars, hybrid lashes, and hybrid invertors: the concept of “hybrid breast augmentation ” has emerged as an enticing option.

Hybrid breast augmentation seamlessly combines the advantages of both breast implants and lipofilling of the breasts, offering a unique approach to achieving your desired breast size and shape. This innovative method allows you to enjoy the size you’ve envisioned while benefiting from smaller breast implants. It’s an exciting fusion of technology and aesthetics, offering a versatile solution that empowers you to tailor your breast enhancement to your precise desires.

Interested in breast enhancement surgery, but not sure where to start? Please schedule a consultation with us by emailing and start your journey to renewed confidence today.

by Cosmetic Breast Surgery Expert, Dr Nerina Wilkinson