In any instance where we're trying to improve the function or appearance of a patient's breasts, plastic surgeons almost always prefer to use the patient’s own tissue to accomplish the desired result. This is because no matter how well made an implant is, it is a foreign object that could become infected, encapsulated and hard, or be extruded from the body.
While these are rare occurrences, we prefer to use living tissue whenever possible. It is also what our patients prefer. You might not believe how many times over the past 25 years our patients have asked, “Dr. Lappert, couldn’t you just suck some of this fat from my thigh or my tummy and just shoot it into my breast?”
Past Problems and Concerns With the Concept
The problem with transplanting living tissue from one place to another is the difficulty involved in establishing a blood supply. When we do breast reconstruction for cancer after removal of the breast, the vast majority of our time is spent planning, dissecting, transferring and preserving the blood vessels so the block of tissue that we move will live in its new home on the chest.
These are big operations that are so involved, we might liken offering such a surgery to a healthy woman looking for a cosmetic improvement to swatting flies with a shotgun.
The idea of transferring fat cells all by themselves just like moving skin grafts from one part of the body to another is very attractive because it isn’t a big surgical procedure. Surgeons have been working with this idea for over 80 years.
The problem is that fat cells tend to be fragile. Much of what got transferred in surgeons' testing got beaten to death by the process. The cells were treated roughly and placed in large globs. This prevents most of the cells from obtaining a blood supply from the surrounding tissue.
Until recently, surgeons didn’t have a good understanding of what was happening to those cells at the microscopic level, or of what they needed to do while placing the grafts so that the cells would have the greatest chance of making a new home for themselves.
An additional problem was the mistaken idea that fat grafts would make mammograms very difficult to read because any fat cells that die tend to leave little calcium deposits. These are what mammographers are looking for as signs of cancer. Good science and logical reasoning have put that objection to rest.
It turns out that nearly everything we do to breasts (including mammograms) causes little calcium deposits. Calcium deposits produced by cancer cells look very different from the deposits caused by trauma to the breast. Best of all, studies have shown that fat-grafted breasts are more transparent to mammography, so cancers are actually easier to detect.
Our Revolutionary Methods
Thanks to the pioneering work of Sidney Coleman and Gino Rigotti (among others), techniques have improved so much over the past 10 years that many surgeons, including Dr. Lappert, find themselves doing more and more breast augmentations using the patient's own fat.
This technique allows us to build shape in very subtle and natural ways that better suit the shape of the patient. Other benefits of this process include:
- No implant
- Natural feel because the materials are all natural
- Minimally invasive procedure with small puncture wounds rather than surgical scars
- The donor site where we retrieve the fat looks better (get rid of "muffin top")
- Local anesthetic with light sedation is used rather than needing more powerful anesthesia
- Very quick recovery times
Depending on your basic shape and your goals, breast augmentation using your own fat may be right for you. Do your own independent research on the method and ask us any questions you wish. If you seek answers elsewhere, make sure you're speaking with a board-certified plastic surgeon who is a member of The American Society of Plastic Surgeons, such as Dr. Lappert.
If you would like more information or believe that breast augmentation without implants is for you, please don't hesitate to contact Lappert Plastic Surgery
. Please keep in mind that individual results may vary with any surgical procedure.