Fat Grafting Overview

For years, many women have wished to transfer fat from one area of the body to the breasts. Now, with fat transfer (also called fat grafting), it’s possible.

Fat transfer may be used in breast reconstruction surgery or breast augmentation when only a small increase in breast size is desired, or in combination with an implant to correct imperfections in shape. The procedure is typically performed by removing fat from one area of the body using low-pressure liposuction, which is washed with saline and then injected into the breasts. This technique often results in a softer, more natural look and feel than breast implants.

Your doctor will help you understand whether this option can help you achieve the look and feel you desire.

Planning and Recovery

What to Expect

On the day of the procedure, your doctor will mark the areas where fat will be removed and injected. Depending on whether any other procedures are being performed at the same time, you may receive general anesthesia, local sedation, or local anesthesia (where only the area of the body being treated is numbed).

A fluid will be injected into the area of the body to be treated with liposuction to make it easier to remove fat cells and lessen bleeding. Liposuction will then be used to remove fat through a suction device. Once removed, fat cells will be isolated, cleansed, and prepared for injection.

Through a series of injections, fat will be added to the breast until the desired volume is achieved.


Recovery After a Fat Transfer/Grafting Procedure

After the procedure, the areas of the body treated will be covered in a compression garment and bandages to help minimize swelling and provide support during the healing process. You’ll typically return home on the day of the procedure with instructions from your doctor.

After returning home, you’ll wear your support garment around the clock and take any prescribed medications for pain and to prevent infection. Your doctor will advise you to take it easy during the initial healing process. While pain typically subsides within the first week, you may have soreness, bruising, and swelling for a few weeks in the areas treated with liposuction. Your doctor will advise you on when to resume normal activity and exercise.

Ready to take the first step?

Request an Appointment

Frequently Asked Questions

You may be a good candidate if:

  • You’re physically healthy
  • You’re not pregnant or breastfeeding
  • Your expectations are realistic
  • You understand the risks that come along with the procedure
  • You want a small increase in breast volume
  • You have excess fat in other areas of the body (some women are too thin for the procedure)
  • You’re otherwise happy with breast shape and skin tone (for example, some women have breasts with too much sagging, which fat grafting alone cannot address)
  • Learn more about breast reconstruction using fat transfer.

    The costs for fat transfer vary based on your specific needs. Insurance coverage may be available for procedures done as part of a breast reconstruction.

    When you come in for your consultation visit, we’ll be better able to discuss fees in detail with you. Our staff will also review the financing options available.

    When a fat transfer is performed purely for cosmetic purposes, it’s generally not covered by insurance. If the procedure is part of a breast reconstruction, coverage may be available. It’s always best to discuss coverage questions with your insurance carrier.

    If you’re exploring options for insurance coverage, you may need to request a referral from your primary care doctor, depending on your health insurance plan. Check with your carrier to see if medical coverage is an option for you and, if so, whether a referral is required.

    As with any procedure, fat transfer does pose some risks. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, risks include:

  • Cysts
  • Infection
  • Microcalcifications (small calcium deposits in the breast tissue)
  • Necrosis (death) of fat cells
  • Possibility that some transferred fat may leave the breast area/be reabsorbed by the body
  • Before surgery, you may be asked to get blood tests and take or adjust medications. If you smoke, quitting will help you heal faster and better avoid complications.

    You’ll also need to arrange for transportation to and from the procedure on the day of surgery, and for someone to stay with you the night after the surgery.

    For more information visit Patient Resources or Preparing for Surgery

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