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Breast Augmentation Fat Transfer: Could Today’s Love Handles Be Tomorrow’s Boob Job?

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In her column, “Get Gorgeous with Grace Gold,” our intrepid beauty reporter Grace Gold investigates products and treatments that really work to keep you looking young, sexy and fabulous.

By Grace Gold of StyleList Magazine, May 2010

The thought of swapping the fat from your love handles or thighs for a fuller, firmer bust line sounds like a woman’s ultimate fantasy.

Except plastic surgeons are now making it a reality.

At the recent American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery meeting in Washington DC, breast augmentation fat transfer was one of the most controversial topics discussed by the gathering of the country’s top plastic surgeons.

The procedure – which liposuctions fat from jiggly areas like the stomach or thighs and then reinjects it into breast tissue – has been experimented with for years, but has seen as a recent resurgence due to public interest in more natural breast enlargement options.

“Fat injection is like trying to squeeze toothpaste into something. If that something is very tight, you can only squeeze so much in. A woman who is young, thin and has never had children won’t have skin that will stretch enough to allow for fat. But a mom who has had breast size fluctuations will have a better result because her skin has room for it,” says Wayne, NJ plastic surgeon Dr. Parham Ganchi.

Unlike breast implants, fat transfer only promises a modest enlargement at most; possibly one cup size or so. Yet the procedure is far less invasive than a breast augmentation, which involves general anesthesia and a hospital or surgical suite admission. Fat transfer requires a light liposuction followed by an injection, and patients can always return for follow-up treatments to add more volume if they like the initial results.

The space age-like Brava bra was also presented at the conference, which creator and Florida plastic surgeon Dr. Roger Khouri claims can be used in conjunction with a breast fat transfer to maximize size results. The bra houses dome-like vacuum pads that provide suction pressure on the breasts while patients wear it – or should we say endure it – for ten hours a night for a period of about ten weeks. The computer-controlled pressure and vibrating movements stimulates natural tissue growth, which translates into a breast that grows in size.

The idea is that the Brava bra in conjunction with a fat transfer will be able to produce fuller results than either option could manage alone.

But don’t make your appointment for a foxier figure just yet; breast fat transfer is yet to be deemed completely safe.

“Much needed clinical trials are underway to evaluate the safety and efficacy of fat transfer to the breast, as our worries with this procedure have rested in the fact that the injected fat can sometimes obscure mammography, or even mimic breast cancer lesions,” says New York plastic surgeon Dr. Jennifer Walden.

The procedure isn’t unique to America’s breast-obsessed society; it has a history of international experimentation.

“The bottom line is that it works, but the safety of the technique is still being debated. Many plastic surgeons around the world have been performing this procedure for years. However, plastic surgeons in the United States have been much more hesitant about using this technique due to concerns about effects on mammograms and breast cancer screening. Ultimately, I think it will be proven safe and effective, but that data may take several years to collect,” says Los Angeles plastic surgeon Dr. Michael K. Newman.

Even though the public may have a heightened interest in breast fat transfer, the majority of plastic surgeons still prefer working with traditional breast implants.

“Breast implants are safe, tested and you know what the outcome will be. It’s a reliable option for breast enlargement, so it makes me less inclined to want to do fat transfer when there are so many different variables and safety concerns to consider,” says Dr. Ganchi.

And unlike breast implants, which can give bustlines of any age a perpetually firm and perky look, fat transfers age and sag with time just like the rest of what Mother Nature gave you.

Sorry, ladies – looks like we’ll have to hit the gym tomorrow after all.