Can I use fat grafting instead of breast implants?

Breast Augmentation / Breast Lift

1 Apr 2024

Can I use fat grafting instead of breast implants?

Have you lost volume in your breasts after children, or perhaps you never quite loved your size and have always wanted more.

But, you’re not sold on breast implants and want to know “can I use fat grafting instead of implants?"

The answer is ‘maybe’ – really depending on your body and goals and in this article I’ll explain when fat grafting is best used and the long term results.


What is fat grafting or fat transfer?

Fat grafting (also called autologous fat transfer) is the removal of fat using liposuction from one area and then reinjection into another. For example, using fat from your flanks and putting it in your breasts.


Fat grafting vs implants

You may be thinking fat grafting sounds more appealing because it is your own tissue, but using fat alone to increase volume in the breasts will not always give you the shape you want, and the long term results in added volume is very variable as a percentage of the fat sadly doesn’t survive.

The volume factor

Many of the results I’ve seen using fat transfer alone look reasonably good in the early post-operative photos thanks to the transfer and swelling. But in the longer term, my own experience and that available in published research, is that up to 50% of the fat dies within 6 months, and more in the longer term. That’s why it is VERY difficult to find proper before and after photos with the patients at 12 months or beyond.


The shape factor

The other factor is the shape that breast surgery can provide. For most of my patients, they want a lifted look with visible (but not over the top) cleavage. That is something that fat transfer can simply not achieve in the longer term.

One of the best ways I’ve heard this described is like “adding apple sauce to a bag” by a colleague in the US, Dr Subbio.

By that he means, the fat will add a bit of volume, but do little to the shape, especially in cases where shape is a significant issue like cases of laxity post babies or weight loss, and tuberous breasts.

A breast implant however, will hold it’s shape in the long term, creating the curves my patients want.

If you are serious about getting both fullness and long term results overall, I would recommend using implants.

When is fat grafting suitable?

Fat grafting is best used for correction of volume, shape and contour deformities. For this reason, I use fat grafting in certain cases where patients want a little extra coverage in combination with implants, which is more common amongst very slim patients or those with breast or chest abnormalities such as pigeon chest.

I also use fat grafting with lift surgery, as the surgical lift is creating the new shape, so the fat transfer simply has to add a little volume. But I caution these patients that the loss of this fat is variable, so to see it as the icing on the cake, rather than the main game.


How much does breast augmentation fat transfer cost?

Fat grafting starts from $4,000 on top of the fees associated with a lift or augmentation. This covers the extra time in the operating theatre for the liposuction to harvest the fat, prepare it for grafting and then insertion in the breast. It also covers the fat grafting equipment which is new for each patient. To find out more about overall costs and the augmentation and lift procedures by visiting our breast augmentation or breast lift pages.

‘Try before you buy’ with a $100 Vectra 3D photo simulation.

To explore what a breast augmentation may look like on your own body, you can book a $100 Vectra 3D surgery simulation with our Practice Manager Jessica. While this does not simulate what fat grafting would look like, this service works to simulate what different implant sizes and shapes can look on your own body.

The appointment gives you the opportunity to talk to Jessica about the surgical process, costs, choice of hospital and review of previous patient case studies.


Video explanation of fat transfer

Dr Nick and Amber Moncrieff sat down at home on a Sunday to answer all the FAQs about fat transfer in breast surgery in a short video for social media. A copy is available here.

Dr-Moncrieff dr-nicholas-moncrieff-at-charlestown-private-hospital-22

Blog Author:

Dr Nicholas Moncrieff, Cosmetic Plastic Surgeon 

About Dr Moncrieff

Dr Moncrieff focuses exclusively on breast reductions, breast lifts, breast augmentation, tummy tucks and body lifts.

He is one of only a handful of Plastic Surgeons across Australia with this sole breast and body focus.

Dr Moncrieff has performed thousands of surgical procedures over more than three decades in medicine. Over 20,000 of these procedures have been in Newcastle.

Learn more information about Dr Moncrieff.

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