Three of this country’s leading experts in plastic surgery sat down to discuss one of the most exciting areas in their specialty: fat transfer to the breast. Dr. Daniel Maman of New York, NY, Dr. Richard Zienowicz of Providence, RI and Dr. Stafford Broumand of New York, NY have all been using fat transfer or fat grafting as a component of their breast reconstruction work for years. Only recently, however, has the procedure become popular among their cosmetic patients.
“It’s the Funnest Thing We Do”
All three now regularly use fat transfer to the breast for their cosmetic patients. “It’s the funnest thing we do.” says Dr. Zienowicz, who describes it as a “win win for women”. The procedure involves performing liposuction to remove fat from an area of the body where you don’t want it – such as the abdomen, buttock, or outer thighs – and putting it where you do want it. One great location is in the breasts, whereby the fat naturally increases the volume. Dr. Zienowicz loves it because, “it allows you to give ultimate symmetry.”
Dr. Broumand agrees, breaking his fat transfer to the breast work into 3 categories. “We can do it for breast reconstruction. We can do it for composite breast reconstruction where we put in an implant and fat to soften the edge of that implant. Or we can do it as a natural breast enhancement,” where the surgeon uses the patient’s own fat to make the breasts bigger. But he’s adamant about the importance of educating the patient as to the pros and cons of fat grafting to the breasts so that their expectations are realistic. “It’s not so simple,” Broumand explains. “It’s a process that we have to explain to the patients who seek us out for this surgery.”
For patients who are young with good skin quality and who are hovering on that line between either a fat transfer or a small implant, Dr. Zienowicz tells them that unless they are prepared for multiple procedures then “an implant always delivers more predictable results than fat grafting.” However, there are always going to be those patients who will prefer a fat transfer because of the “win win” of removing fat from an unwanted area and/or because it is a natural alternative to breast implants.
Is Fat Transfer to the Breasts Safe?
Although some plastic surgeons have been hesitant to adopt fat grafting into the breast because of concerns about mammography and the ability to monitor changes to the breast, all of our experts agree that this procedure is safe. “Those were early concerns” says Zienowicz, but “it’s not become a problem whatsoever.” Dr. Broumand was initially worried about what could happen when fat was put into a potential cancer-forming part of the body, but all the evidence has proven that “yes, we can do fat grafting safely.”
Dr. Maman believes that fat grafting to the breast and the coupling of fat with a breast implant is revolutionizing cosmetic breast surgery. One of the real pluses of the procedure is the ability to address asymmetry in a very specific, localized way, and to treat tuberous breast deformities. Breast reconstruction traditionally refers to surgery for patients recovering from breast cancer, but there are patients with other types of breast anomalies or deformities that are considered reconstruction. For instance, young women who come in with a developmental abnormality such as tuberous breast deformity. Now, plastic surgeons can treat these women with just a simple fat transfer to the breast, literally transforming their lives.
New procedures and techniques appear often, some of which seem bright but fade, others become entrenched into the discipline. Fat transfer – whether it be to the breasts, or buttock, or even face and hands – continues to show extreme promise, and appears to become a core procedure when it comes to rebuilding and transforming the lives of patients.