The very first breast augmentation was performed by injecting paraffin directly into the breast tissue. Clearly, modern day cosmetic surgery has evolved considerably since then; however the idea of injecting inert substances in order to plump up certain features is not new.
The more recent injection techniques include hyaluronic acid gel (Macrolane) and injection of fillers such as Restylane and Perlane. These involve the injection of inert, synthetic materials although hyaluronic acid is a naturally occurring substance. Another technique is to inject fat to augment or fill out many areas of the body and face. The difference here is that the fat is taken from patient's own body so it is not a synthetic or foreign material and there are no issues around the body rejecting the injected material (i.e. fat). Fat transfer injections are not new and they were first developed in the early 1900s where they represented the second generation of breast augmentation, following on from the earlier paraffin injections. Unfortunately, the early attempts yielded results with a short longevity because the injected fat was quite quickly absorbed back into the patient's body.
Now since the fat to be injected is first removed from the patient's own body, then this creates another tremendous opportunity and benefit. The fat donor area is often from the abdomen (belly), hips or thighs. So liposuction from these often troublesome areas can have a double benefit by using the fat to enhance breasts or buttocks or plump up sagging areas such as lips, eye bags, the face and hands and fight the signs of ageing in general. So this process of fat transfer injections is analogous to being able to chisel off a few lumps and bumps here and there from undesired areas of the body and to enhance other areas to make them fuller. This is why some consider it to be body sculpturing.
Autologous Fat Transplantation Injections (Micro-lipoinjection)
Fat grafting, lipo injection, autologous fat transplantation, micro-lipoinjection, this cosmetic surgery technique has several different names. Liposuction is used to extract and collect fat from the patient's abdomen, hips or thighs. The extracted fat is then spun in a centrifuge in order to isolate the adipose derived stem cells and it is then re-injected into the patient within the same surgical procedure as the initial liposuction. The use of adipose derived stem cells enables greater longevity to be achieved than in results from earlier procedures.
The recovery process typically lasts around one to two weeks. In that time, there will be swelling in the area to which the fat was injected. The body will naturally reabsorb some of the injected fat, however this process tails off quickly so that most of the absorption takes place in the short recovery period. Now to compensate for this natural absorption effect, the surgeon will over fill the recipient area. This will make the effects appear to be excessive in the recovery period which is exacerbated by swelling from the procedure. However, as the swelling subsides and the initial absorption takes place, the desired final results become apparent.
Most people are in a position to return to work and their normal lifestyle in around 10 to 14 days. It depends upon the individual, their lifestyle and what procedure they have had. Swelling to the face is clearly more visible and harder to cover up than swelling to the breasts.
Comparison Of Fat Transfer Vs Synthetic Breasts Implants
Autologous fat transplantation offers several benefits and advantages over silicone, saline or polyurethane breasts implants:
- Fat transfer is usually combined with liposuction and the benefits of liposuction are received. Although it could be argued that this could be done too for augmentation with synthetic implants, it is actually a necessary part of the fat transfer procedure.
- The cost is less than that of liposuction with breast augmentation (with synthetic implants).
- There is no surgical incision required in the breast because the fat is deposited through injection which results in little to no scarring.
- There is risk of an allergic reaction or the body rejecting foreign material because the transplanted fat is harvested from the patient's own body.
- Many of the breast enlargements risks such as capsular contracture are eliminated because they are not applicable.
- The procedure has a much shorter recovery period because it is less surgically invasive.
- Unfortunately, one of the main issues with fat transfer is the relatively short duration of the results, particularly when compared against the 10+ years that are expected for the lifetime of synthetic implants. The patient's genetics, lifestyle choices, the skill of the surgeon and establishment of a blood supply around the transplanted fat all affect how long the results may last. Patients usually need a repeat treatment after several months but the recovery period is short and only a local anaesthetic is needed. Additionally, fat harvested in the initial liposuction may be frozen for this future re-use, avoiding the more invasive and costly liposuction part of the procedure.
- Only a limited size increase can be achieved through autologous fat transplantation. Synthetic implants must be used in order achieve larger size increases.
- Breast cancer detection using a mammogram is more difficult once fat has been injected.
Fat Transfer Injections Popularity
Up to 8 out of 10 women are unhappy with their body and more are turning to cosmetic surgery as a quick fix. This is becoming more widely accepted as the norm and the abundance of clinics being available has increased by demand. Fat transfer injections are one of the many areas of cosmetic surgery that has become increasingly popular.
Body sculpturing through diet, exercise and the gym is possible to some extent. However, it is impossible to spot reduce fat from one specific area of the body and enhance another through natural processes. See our article on natural breast size and genetics for more details. The only way to achieve body sculpturing is through autologous fat transplantation.
In addition to enhancing the bust, transplantation is used for plumping up of facial features to fight ageing such as cheeks and chin and also lips. It is used in the hands to smooth wrinkles and to enhance buttocks.