Fat Graft Breast Recovery Time, Risk and Results

Fat Graft Breast Recovery Time, Risk and Results

woman checking her breast

Some women like the idea of having larger breasts, but they don’t like the idea of having a foreign body in their chest, such as a breast implant. Fortunately, modern plastic surgery allows the ladies to enlarge their breasts naturally, using their own fat. The procedure is called breast fat grafting or fat transfer breast. In medicine, this cosmetic surgery is known as autologous fat grafting.

What is specific about this operation is that it uses a woman’s own fat instead of breast implants to increase breast size. Throughout breast fat graft, the plastic surgeon extracts fat cells from a certain part of the body (it could be your belly, your thighs or buttocks) through liposuction and injects them into the breast. It is considered a more natural way to increasing breast volume. After that, the bust feels and looks fuller, bigger and better.

In addition to all other benefits, this type of procedure also reduces unwanted fat from the body’s problem areas.

If you already feel ready to undergo breast augmentation with fat transfer, you will probably want to know what the recovery looks like, what are the risks, what is and isn’t normal after fat graft and so on.

In this article, we will cover those and other topics related to this surgical procedure.

What is the recovery time for breast fat grafting surgery?

Recovery time for autologous fat transfer normally depends upon what part of the body was initially treated by liposuction. On average, it takes anywhere between two weeks to one month for swelling and bruising to go down and around six months to completely heal from the surgery and the breast to take a proper position. Some of the injected fat cells will usually be reabsorbed within the first few months of operation, so the results might not be apparent right away.

Initially, the breast fat graft procedure does feel a little bit hard, it feels swollen, but over the next three to four weeks, it starts to soften up and feels incredibly natural. After seven to ten days, you probably will be able to go back to work and resume your normal activities.

To ensure your quick and safe recovery, it is important that you follow all after-care recommendations from your surgeon.

On the day after breast fat transfer surgery

In most cases, fat transfer with breast augmentation surgery is performed as an outpatient procedure, meaning you can go home on the same day.

You can expect bruising and swelling as well as pain and discomfort in the treated areas (the liposuction site and the injections site). These parts of your body will also be covered in a compression garment that you will have to wear around the clock for a certain period of time (it will be determined by your plastic surgeon). 

This support cloth will help you reduce the swelling and heal quicker. In terms of pain management, your surgeon will advise taking pain relief medications that will minimize the soreness and discomfort. It is important to get a good rest on the day after surgery.

The first three weeks after the breast fat transfer procedure

It is absolutely normal to experience pain for the first few days. As we mentioned, you can easily manage that soreness with medications prescribed by your doctor. Most patients feel discomfort for the first three to five days, and after that, it really starts to improve, and you are feeling much better. When it comes to swelling, it may persist for two or four weeks, in some cases even longer. It all depends on your body and its ability to recover.

For a week or so, after fat transfer augmentation, you may have some discomfort around the injections site and experience a tightening sensation around the breast – this is normal and will be gone just like any bruising or swelling. You shouldn’t do any heavy lifting or heavy exercises throughout your healing period. Depending on the surgeon estimation, you might be able to return to work in two or three weeks. After that time, light exercises are also acceptable.

Breast fat grafting risk

If you are considering breast fat grafting, it is essential to take into account the risk factors and the side effects associated with this procedure. Your surgeon should explain to you about them during the pre-surgery consultation. Here are some of the possible complications:

  • Infection;
  • Bleeding;
  • Hematoma ( blood collection under the skin);
  • General anaesthesia risks;
  • Fat necrosis ;
  • Development of oil cysts in the breast.

Another risk related to breast fat graft surgery is that there is not a precise volume the surgeon can give you, unlike breast implant surgery, where you know the exact volume you get (whether it is a 250 cc implant, 350 cc implant, etc.). So some patients might be not satisfied with their results.

Another potential risk is fat reabsorption and the need for a second breast fat graft procedure. It means that the injected fat tissue doesn’t endure in its new location. Why does it happen? Just some people absorb fat a little bit more than others.

And since the presence of many complications, in many cases, is due to the lack of professionalism of doctors, it is mandatory to choose an experienced board-certified plastic surgeon.

Is there a risk to get breast cancer with breast fat graft surgery?

Fat grafts to the breast have not been associated with a higher risk of malignancy. Scientific trials have proven that this procedure is indeed safe and effective.

Breast fat grafting postoperative care

Young woman getting breast examination
  • You have to take all of the medications prescribed by your surgeon as well as strictly follow the post-op instructions given by him/her.
  • It is good to start with a light, healthy diet immediately after surgery. That will help you reduce the risk of vomiting. It is higher for the first few days, so just try to be careful what you are eating during this time.
  • You will feel pain and discomfort after the surgery; that is why you may want to use extra pillows as you are laying down to help support your body and keep your arms elevated.
  • You shouldn’t just be laying in bed all the time. It is important that you get up and that you walk around as well as take care of yourself in any way that you can. Of course, you should be resting for the first 2-3 days, but after that, you need to make sure you don’t just lay around because complications can happen with that sedentary.
  • You have to restrict sexual activities for at least 1 month after surgery.
  • You shouldn’t drink alcohol or smoke for the first 2 weeks.
  • Any heavy exercises, including the gym, swimming, tennis or golf, should be limited during the first month. Light walking or moving around your home are acceptable and recommended.
  • Make sure you sleep on your back for 2 or 3 weeks so as not to hurt the injections site.

Fat grafting to breast results

Fat transfer to the breast is a procedure that will give you beautifully shaped, lifted and fuller breasts. However, you need to understand that a breast fat graft cannot give you as much as bigger size or volume as a breast augmentation with implants would. So if you are really looking to go up a cup size or two cup sizes, you are really better off going with a breast implant instead of using fat.

But if you have a pretty nice breast shape but just lacking some fullness up of the top and you are looking to improve your body contour, then a breast fat graft is going to be a perfect option for you. In addition, breast fat transfer surgery works very well if you have breast asymmetry (one breast is visibly larger than the other) or breast deformity (if you had a breast reduction, other previous surgery, and there is an indentation or a scar).

Fat transfers breast reconstruction after radiation

If there is a defect in the breast after undergoing a partial mastectomy (due to breast cancer), removal of adenoma or another type of trauma or congenital deformities, then the fat transfer will be an effective method to fill the breast. This procedure is also an option for breast reconstruction after a complete mastectomy, but to achieve enough volume, you will need to have two, three or even four consecutive procedures.

Fat transfer breast reconstruction procedure is commonly done after lumpectomy, mastectomy and radiation therapy. Radiation treatment often causes some changes to the breast. A breast fat grafting procedure can improve the breast tissue and restore the natural appearance of the bust.

After radiation therapy, you have to deal with more scar tissue, with more radiation-induced changes, especially after lumpectomy surgery. During this procedure, only breast cancer is removed, and everything else is left behind. To prevent the local recurrence of that breast cancer in the breast, the doctor performs radiation therapy. However, this treatment can induce a fibrotic reaction of the tissue, cause skin changes with hyperpigmentation, etc.

By using a breast fat grafting technique, plastic surgeons are able to reconstruct that breast. This procedure has regenerative properties, so it can really reverse a lot of the fibrosis and hyperpigmented changes of the skin. In addition, it restores the lost breast volume and fullness.

Is fat transfer to the breast permanent?

The procedure of fat transfer to the breast can potentially provide a permanent solution. The fat cells for the injection are usually carefully selected to attain full survival. So unless you are going to have a dramatic weight loss, you will have large breasts for life! Your body doesn’t try to get rid of the injected fat tissue because it’s an organic material that has been produced by your body.

In case of weight gain, the fat cells will get bigger, and vice versa; if you lose weight, they will get a little smaller. However, your breasts are never going to go away.

Conclusion

Although breast augmentation with implants is still the most popular method of increasing breast size, many women opt for autologous fat grafting. It is a newer plastic surgery that has been well studied and considered to be completely safe. This operation not only enhances the breast appearance but also significantly improve the overall body contour. Another benefit of the treatment is that it has an easier recovery than recovery from traditional breast augmentation methods.

Many positive reviews of patients who have had breast fat grafting procedures prove that this technique is gaining popularity among women, and more and more of them are willing to enlarge their breasts and improve their appearance in this way.

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* Disclaimer: results vary according to individual