If you have breast implants, you know: implants require maintenance or replacement after a period of time. Dr. Dan Del Vecchio, a board certified plastic surgeon in Boston, Massachusetts explains when it’s time to replace your implants and how fat may be an even better option. Dr. Del Vecchio poses the question, “How about replacing your implants with fat from your own body?”
“We haven’t had a single failure. It’s an amazing operation that’s a great alternative for patients who don’t want their breast implants anymore.” – Dan Del Vecchio, MD
Simultaneous Implant Exchange with Fat
Breast implants have come a long way over the past few decades and can achieve great results. After 10-15 years, however, implants may need to be replaced. “When patients come into my office, I like to ask if they’d be okay with not having to come back again to maintain or replace their new implants,” says Dr. Del Vecchio. “If the answer is ‘yes’, then I inform them of a procedure I’m very excited about that will maintain their breast size for the rest of their life.”
The procedure is called SIEF, or Simultaneous Implant Exchange with Fat. The procedure allows a surgeon to remove the implants and replace them with the patient’s own fat. Dr. Del Vecchio has written a paper on the benefits of using fat in implant replacement procedures that has become the industry standard. “My first fat transplantation was in 2006,” says Del Vecchio. “We haven’t had a single failure. It’s an amazing operation that’s a great alternative for patients who don’t want their breast implants anymore.”
Where is the Fat Coming From?
An added bonus of the SIEF procedure is a reduction of fat on a patient’s body where there is an excess. Not only is the patient having their breasts filled with fat that will remain for the rest of their lives, but the fat being used is their own. “We harvest fat by doing liposuction in an area where the patient has a little extra fat; perhaps the thighs, abdomen or buttock,” says Del Vecchio. “I am simply removing fat from one part of a patient’s body, and placing it in the breast where the implant used to be. ” This is especially beneficial for patients who are unsure about having foreign objects in their body.
Breast Fullness with Your Own Fat
If you’ve decided the time has come to replace your aged implants, or simply part ways with a troubling implant, Dr. Del Vecchio wants to assure you don’t have to part ways with your breasts. Breast implants can be replaced by fat without losing any volume. “This is thinking outside the box,” says Del Vecchio. “This is saying, ‘We’re not going to put another implant in, we’re going to make this patient’s volume up with fat instead.’”
While implants have their expiration dates and potential complications, fat is a natural alternative with staying power. “Whatever a patient looks like at six months to a year, that fat is permanent. We have patients now five, six years out and they don’t look any different,” says Del Vecchio. “It’s not the kind of thing where I’m telling you, ‘This is the operation and 50% of them get a touch up.’ Zero patients have gotten a touch up. Both myself and my patients are thrilled with the results, and we can share in the excitement that their breasts will remain with them for the rest of their lives.”