Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibilityWhat Is a Fat Transfer Breast Augmentation? 2024 Expert Guide

What Is a Fat Transfer Breast Augmentation? Procedure, Benefits and Risks, and Recovery in 2024


    Lately, fat transfer breast augmentation has sparked interest as a “natural” option for enhancement. But it comes with drawbacks — you can only graft so much fat before running into problems like poor blood supply to the fat or trouble achieving ideal symmetry. Saline or silicone implants are better for more volume and even shape.

    However, when performed by a skilled surgeon in suitable candidates, fat grafting can complement implants. Learn what a fat transfer breast augmentation is, the benefits and risks, and what the procedure and recovery entail.

    Introduction to Fat Transfer Breast Augmentation

    Fat transfer breast augmentation uses your body fat to enhance breast size and shape. It can be an alternative to implants for women seeking natural-looking enhancement up to 1 cup size [1].

    What Is Fat Transfer Breast Augmentation?

    Also called fat grafting, fat transfer breast augmentation involves harvesting excess fat from other areas of your body through liposuction and carefully re-injecting it into your breasts.

    The surgical procedure uses your adipose (fatty) tissue so there’s little risk of allergic reaction or rejection as with artificial implants. The surgeon will inject the fat in small amounts to maintain a natural look and feel [2].

    The Benefits of Fat Transfer Breast Augmentation

    Compared to breast implants, some benefits of fat transfer breast augmentation include:

    • A natural way of enhancing the breasts

    • No artificial implants or foreign objects placed in your body

    • Minimal scarring

    • Reduced risk of breast thinning or rippling

    Fat Grafting Drawbacks and Limitations

    While fat transfer has some noteworthy benefits, it also has drawbacks and limitations:

    • Not suitable for women wanting a significant volume increase

    • Difficult to achieve symmetry (grafted fat may absorb unevenly)

    • Possibility of inadequate blood supply to fat leads to tissue death

    • Increased risk of breast lumps and nodules

    • Less predictable results compared to implant augmentation

    • More costly than implants

    The Fat Transfer Breast Augmentation Procedure

    Fat transfer breast augmentation is an outpatient procedure under general anesthesia or IV sedation.

    It typically involves the following steps:

    Step 1: Consultation

    Your board-certified surgeon will evaluate your health, examine your breasts and body, and discuss your goals. The surgeon will also explain the limitations of fat grafting for significant enlargement. Typically, fat transfer to the breast is best for adding small amounts of fat to enhance the shape and appearance of the breasts and to correct irregularities. Together, you’ll determine if you’re a good candidate for fat transfer augmentation.

    Step 2: Preparation

    You’ll avoid certain medications or supplements that increase bleeding risk [3]. Arrange for someone to drive you home and help you in the first 24 hours post-op.

    Step 3: Anesthesia

    On the day of your surgery, you’ll get general anesthesia or IV sedation along with local anesthesia. This ensures you’re comfortable throughout the procedure [4].

    Step 4: Fat Harvesting

    Your surgeon will remove excess fat from areas like your thighs, flanks, back, or abdomen. They’ll use small cannulas inserted through tiny incisions.

    Step 5: Processing of Fat

    Your surgeon will use a filtering process to purify the harvested fat. This isolates the most viable fat cells and removes fluids, oils, and blood components. It also helps maximize the viability and longevity of the transferred fat [5].

    Step 6: Fat Injection

    Your surgeon will inject small amounts of the purified fat into the breast through small needles. They’ll meticulously control the fat placement for natural-looking, symmetrical results.

    Step 7: Closure of Incisions

    After the fat injection, the surgeon will close the small incisions at the grafted area(s) with sutures, skin glue, or surgical tape. Over time, the incision sites fade into faint scars.

    Step 8: Recovery

    You’ll need someone to transport you home from the surgical center and stay with you for at least the first 24 hours. Side effects like swelling should subside in several weeks. But most women return to work after 1-2 weeks [6].

    Step 9: Follow-up

    You’ll have follow-up visits with your plastic surgeon to monitor your progress and results. Keep in mind some of the transferred fat will get reabsorbed. But most of the breast volume should stay.

    Candidates for Fat Transfer Breast Augmentation

    Good candidates for fat transfer breast augmentation include women who:

    • Are in good health overall

    • Don’t use tobacco.

    • Have enough excess body fat to remove from areas like the abdomen, flanks, or  thighs

    • Want only mild/moderate enhancement of ½ to 1 cup size

    • Want to improve mild asymmetry between breasts

    • Don’t feel comfortable with implants

    Fat grafting isn’t recommended for women who:

    • Expect significant enhancement beyond 1 cup size

    • Are very slim without enough body fat at donor sites

    • Have a history of breast cancer or precancerous breast lesions

    Preparing for Fat Transfer Breast Augmentation

    Here are tips for preparing for your fat transfer procedure:

    • Stop taking medications or supplements that increase bleeding risk per your surgeon’s instructions

    • Stop tobacco use at least 6 weeks before and after surgery to maximize safety and outcomes

    • Communicate your desired cup size and aesthetic goals to your surgeon

    • Stock up on soft, comfortable clothing that zips or fastens in the front to wear during recovery

    • Get any prescription pain medication and over-the-counter drugs recommended by your surgeon

    • Arrange for transportation to and from surgery

    • Have someone stay with you for the first 1-2 days

    Recovery Fat Transfer Breast Augmentation

    Here’s what you can expect after the surgical procedure:

    Immediate Recovery

    You’ll wake up from surgery in a recovery area where your surgeon will monitor you. Initial swelling from the procedure can be significant but will subside over time.

    Bandages, support bra, and compression garments help minimize swelling. You’ll need someone to drive you home and spend the first night caring for you.

    Postoperative Care

    For the first 48 hours, your body needs plenty of rest and limited arm mobility. The idea behind this is to avoid putting pressure on the transfer sites.

    Avoid sleeping on your stomach and wear your support bra or compression garment as directed. Follow instructions from your plastic surgeon on wound care, showering, and activity over the next few weeks.

    Compression Garments

    Wearing a support bra or compression garment as your surgeon directs is critical. It’ll help minimize swelling and maximize fat graft retention. Around-the-clock garment use is typical for 6 weeks.

    Activity Limitations

    For 2-4 weeks post-op, avoid strenuous exercise and activities that increase swelling or pressure to the breasts. Your surgeon will guide you on gradually increasing mobility.

    Don’t lift heavy over your head or carry anything weighing over 5 pounds until cleared by your doctor. Assuming there are no complications, you’ll get cleared around 3 weeks.

    Pain Management

    It’s normal to experience some pain, swelling, and bruising after your procedure. Your surgeon’s prescribed medication(s) will help control discomfort. You may also use cool compresses on the treatment areas to get relief. Just don’t apply ice directly on the skin — frostbite skin damage isn’t fun!

    Follow-up Appointments

    You’ll see your plastic surgeon at regular intervals to monitor your progress and results. Ultrasound or MRI scans can assess retained fat volume.

    Long-term Results Monitoring

    You’ll meet with your surgeon often in the first year to ensure the stability of your results. Your breasts will look fullest right after the surgery, and gradually shrink over 3 months before settling to their permanent shape and size.

    Remember: The best outcomes depend on adhering to your surgeon’s post-op instructions to maximize fat graft survival.

    Fat Transfer Breast Augmentation Aftercare

    Proper aftercare and follow-up appointments are important for optimal results:

    • Wear your support bra or compression garment as directed

    • Follow instructions on wound care and hygiene

    • Keep activity light for the first month

    • Attend scheduled follow-up visits with your plastic surgeon

    • Report any signs of infections, poor wound healing, or other issues

    • Notify your surgeon if any irregularities, asymmetry, or breast appearance changes occur

    • Contact your surgeon before undergoing any future breast procedures or biopsies

    • Use caution if becoming pregnant, as pregnancy can alter results

    Risks and Complications of Fat Transfer Breast Augmentation

    Possible side effects of fat transfer breast augmentation include [7]:

    • Loss of some volume over time as the body reabsorbs some of the transferred fat

    • Post-op bruising, swelling, pain, and tenderness

    • Asymmetry or irregular contours if the fat is injected into the breast unevenly

    • Infection or poor wound healing

    • Fat necrosis (death of some fat cells causing firmness or nodules)

    • Cysts or calcifications that may appear on mammograms

    • Need for more fat grafting procedures to maintain results

    Selecting an experienced, board-certified plastic surgeon minimizes these risks.

    Fat Transfer Breast Augmentation: A Natural Alternative

    For women who can’t or don’t want to use artificial materials, fat grafting can be a natural alternative to achieve breast enhancement. When done by an expert, transferred body fat can augment breasts for beautiful and proportionate contours.

    Still, patients need to go into it with realistic expectations. Fat transfer isn’t a replacement for saline or silicone implants if you’re after more volume. On its own, fat grafting simply can’t give the significant boosts that implants can. Depending on your aesthetic goals, a combination of implants and fat grafting may provide ideal fullness and symmetry. 

    A good surgeon will educate you on maximizing outcomes and which procedures best suit your needs.

    Frequently Asked Questions About Fat Transfer Breast Augmentation

    How long does fat transfer breast augmentation last?

    When executed by a skilled plastic surgeon, results are long-lasting in most patients — at least 5 years [8]. But bodies change with age, so you may need touch-up fat grafting over time to maintain the desired volume.

    What is the success rate of the fat transfer breast augmentation?

    50-90% of injected fat survives the transfer when a surgeon uses proper techniques [9]. In other words, success depends on his skills and artistic precision when placing the grafted fat. Choose a reputable, board-certified plastic surgeon known for their expertise in breast augmentation to get beautiful outcomes.

    Consider Burbank Plastic Surgery for Breast Enhancement

    Many women in Burbank choose Dr. Orloff at Burbank Plastic Surgery for their breast enhancement. He’s performed more than 12,000 cosmetic surgery procedures, helping people achieve stunning results.

    Schedule a consultation to learn about your breast enhancement options and see results from real patients. Our team is ready to advise you on the optimal procedures to meet your goals.


    1. Breast Augmentation Using Fat Grafting, American Society of Plastic Surgeons

    2. Fat Grafting,

    3. Medications to Avoid Before and After Surgery, Baylor Medicine

    4. Fat Transfer Breast Augmentation, Cleveland Clinic

    5. Fat Processing Techniques, National Library of Medicine

    6. Fat Transfer, Cleveland Clinic

    7. What Are the Risks of Fat Transfer Breast Augmentation?, American Society of Plastic Surgeons

    8. Long-term clinical results and quality of life in patients undergoing autologous fat transplantation for breast augmentation using the BEAULI™ protocol, National Library of Medicine

    9. Six of the Most Common Areas That Plastic Surgeons Do Fat Transfers, American Society of Plastic Surgeons