Fat grafting refers to the process of harvesting adipose tissue (aka fat) from one part of the body via liposuction, concentrating it, and then re-injecting it immediately into another part of the body. In breast reconstruction, fat grafting is commonly used in secondary stages to help fine-tune subtle contour irregularities or volume asymmetry of the reconstructed breasts. Fat grafting alone is not an advisable method for breast reconstruction due to variable success rates, need for multiple rounds of surgical fat grafting, and unsatisfactory anesthetic results.
After the initial stage of breast reconstruction (either autologous flap or implant) has fully healed, your surgeon will assess the overall breast shape/contour and volume. Fat grafting may then be considered to address various components:
- Fat grafting for volume – this can be done with either implant-based or flap reconstruction. In general, modest enhancements, i.e. ½ cup size, can be expected from this procedure. We will work with you to determine appropriate breast size and realistic expectations.
- Fat grafting to improve contour abnormalities – these subtle deformities may include hollowing in the upper poles or in areas of previous scars. Several methods can be used to improve these irregularities like fat grafting as well as skin tightening.
- Fat grafting after post-mastectomy radiation – this can be done to help with volume as radiation can tighten the skin and flap so that it appears contracted compared to the non-radiated side. Some studies have also shown that fat grafting after radiation can help soften the radiated flap and skin.1
Breast reconstruction is a personal choice and intricate process. Our goal at Breast Reconstruction Associates is to help our patients choose the best reconstructive options and techniques. Please contact either our Fort Worth, Austin or Oklahoma City office today to schedule a consultation and answer any questions you may have.