A breast augmentation, or boob job, has long been a popular procedure for women, and certainly one of the most popular topics on RealSelf. While implants have been the traditional method for getting a larger bustline, one technique has been gaining some surprising new ground the last couple years: breast fat transfer.
In fact, using one’s own fat in the breasts was up 41 percent in 2016 over 2015, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS). By comparison, breast augmentation with implants increased only by 1.5 percent over that same time period.
So, why are women trending toward breast fat transfer now?
We asked experts on RealSelf why breast fat transfer is becoming a go-to technique for a boob job. Here are seven reasons why breast fat transfer is taking over.
1. Natural is inThe era of big, round breasts is over. Soft, natural-looking breasts are in. While it’s possible to get a mostly natural look from implants, there’s nothing closer to real than your own fat tissue.
“Aesthetic trends change slowly over time, and I have noticed in my practice that more women are requesting more natural-looking breasts and are choosing more modestly sized implants,” says Dr. David Sieber, a San Francisco physician.
2. Fewer risksWhile breast augmentation is generally a safe procedure, introducing any foreign objects into the body involves some risk. Some people may be more susceptible to complications than others, but it really depends on many factors, including your plastic surgeon and your body.
“The areas where the fat is harvested become sculpted and restore more natural curves, while the breasts are enhanced without introducing a foreign body,” says Dr. Richard Moore, a Saint Louis, Missouri, physician. “Many women want to avoid implants due to the risks of encapsulation, leakage and the need for future surgery should they need to be removed or replaced.”
A reviewer on RealSelf tells us why she chose breast fat transfer over implants: “I had numerous issues with my implants after breastfeeding and having my child. I had galactoceles [milk-filled cysts] and encapsulated implants from a renowned Beverly Hills plastic surgeon. I decided I was done with any implants and wanted a fat transfer to my breasts.”
Related: 6 treatments that help erase chest wrinkles and create smoother cleavage
3. Avoid a larger scarAside from choosing the size of an implant, one of the biggest decisions in breast augmentation concerns scars. With an average incision length of three to five centimeters for breast implants, it’s likely there will be a noticeable scar.
Breast fat transfer, however, has little to no risk of scarring.
“There is no scar on the breast, unlike breast implants, as fat is injected through a small, three-millimeter incision in the axilla [armpit],” says Dr. Karthik Ram, a plastic surgeon in India.
4. Liposuction is an added bonusSuffering from stubborn belly fat or love handles that are offering up a bit too much love? That’s the great thing about breast fat transfer — you use your own fat from just about any part of the body.
“As an added bonus, liposuction is performed as a part of the procedure to harvest the fat, which means stubborn areas of fat can also be addressed at the same time,” says Sieber.
“I wanted a bigger breast cup size without implants,” says one reviewer on RealSelf. “The option of a fat transfer was offered by liposuctioning unwanted fat and transferring it to the breast area.”
“I thought that was a great idea — get rid of the love handles and thunder thighs and get larger breasts,” she continues. “After my procedure, I was very pleased with the results. My abs had definition, my thighs were slimmer, and I went from a C cup to a DDD cup.”
5. No upkeepThere’s no universal shelf-life for implants, but most women have implant removal or replacement after 10 to 15 years. However, most surgeons agree that if you and your doctor are closely monitoring your breast health, it’s best to leave the implants alone. Problems that may require implant removal include implant rupture, capsular contracture, asymmetry and ptosis, or sagging.
6. You can build your breast sizeWorried about going too big? With breast fat transfer, you can start small and work your way to your ideal size without having multiple surgeries.
“It’s natural, safe, and if you do a series of treatments, you can build the breast size and lift it without any surgery,” says Dr. Jason Emer, a Los Angeles dermatologic surgeon. “It has minimal risk when used properly, and when combined with PRP and stem cells or Sculptra, it can build naturally over time, and you can enhance its survival.”
Related: Breast reduction: Why it’s so popular and what you need to know
7. You can combine implants and fat transferFor thinner women who don’t have enough fat to reach their desired size, implants plus fat transfer may be an ideal solution. If you already have implants, breast fat transfer can be used to contour the overall shape of the breast and make the implants appear more natural.
“I don’t have a ton of fat on my body. I’m 5 feet 7 inches and 117 pounds,” says one reviewer on RealSelf. “I decided to go with a small implant, 240 cubic centimeters, high profile, with approximately 130 cubic centimeters of fat on top of the implant and on the sides to improve cleavage and sideboob while camouflaging the implants.”
The downsideWhile breast fat transfer has some amazing advantages, no procedure is perfect.
“The main disadvantage with fat fill is the absorption of fat — nearly 30 to 40 percent post procedure,” says Ram. “More than one sitting may be required to achieve the desired size.”
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