Grafting for breast reconstruction
What You Need to Know: Fat Grafting Breast Reconstruction

What You Need to Know: Fat Grafting Breast Reconstruction

Dana Donofree
5 min read

Fat Grafting Breast Reconstruction -- What You Should Know

Fat grafting breast reconstruction surgery is among the newer techniques for adding volume, shape, and definition to your breasts. If you’re looking for a filler-free way to even out your breasts or reconstruct their shape in part or altogether, this procedure may be the right option for you. Read on to discover how fat grafting works and the pros and cons of choosing a breast reconstruction with fat grafting.

Fat grafting

What Is Fat Grafting Breast Reconstruction?

Fat grafting is a relatively new procedure that uses liposuction to extract fat cells from parts of your body such as your thighs, butt, or stomach, then injects this fat into your breasts. This approach is a more natural,  implant-free way to rebuild your breast or breasts or add tissue back to areas where breast tissue may have been removed. It’s also used cosmetically to increase cup size, even out your appearance, or help restore breast shape affected by radiation therapy.

Who Is A Candidate For Fat Grating Breast Reconstruction?

If you went through breast cancer treatment, you may be a candidate for fat grafting breast reconstruction, depending on the type of treatment you had. Generally, if you’ve undergone a mastectomy, lumpectomy, or partial mastectomy, you may be able to reconstruct your breasts with fat grafting. Additionally, you may be a good candidate if you have a little extra body fat to “donate” to your new boobs. 

How Long Does Fat Grafting Last?

While it may take months to see the final results of the procedure, your results should last for years to come. However, keep in mind that by using your own fat, there’s a risk that the fat won’t survive in a new area of the body. It’s also important to keep in mind that fat grafting is not a solution for time, gravity, and loss of skin elasticity -- the signs of aging come for us all! 

Fat Grafting Vs Implants -- What's The Difference?

To determine which procedure is right for you, it’s important to acknowledge the difference between fat grafting and implants. As mentioned above, fat grafting uses your body’s fat and injects it into your breasts. An implant, however, places an insert filled with either saline or silicone into your breast. Here are some of the major differences between these two breast reconstruction options: 

Implants Need To Be Replaced

One key difference between fat grafting and breast implants is that implants need to be replaced roughly every 10 years. You may wonder, why would a breast implant need to be replaced so often?

There are two main reasons for this:

  1. Over time, your breast implant may rupture or leak, simply due to the implant wearing out over time. 
  2. There’s a chance that you can develop capsular contracture, which occurs when your body forms too much scar tissue. That scar tissue forms in response to your body detecting a foreign object in your body. This can eventually make the implants feel firm, unnatural, or even painful.

Fat grafting does not run that risk, because the procedure uses parts of your own body that are way less likely to be rejected by your body.

You Don't Have Much Control Over Size With Fat Grafting

While you may think that because you’re suctioning fat off your body, you’ll be able to have breasts as large as you want, right? Unfortunately, that isn’t true. With fat grafting, you’re most likely only going to go up one size, or maybe one and a half sizes. With implants, you may be able to increase your cup size more than with fat grafting, although this varies from person to person.

Implants Can Give You A Lift

Because fat grafting is adding your own fat back into your body, your breasts aren’t going to receive that “lift” like they would with an implant. Since the results are more natural-looking, they can’t stop gravity in the same way as a silicone or saline-filled implant.

Benefits Of Fat Grafting Breast Reconstruction

Before deciding if this is the procedure for you, read below to discover the possible benefits and risks of breast reconstruction with fat. 

  • Natural tissue. Since the fat is sourced from your own body, the results of breast reconstruction with fat grafting appear and feel more natural. They’re also less likely to form the scar tissue and hardness that’s a concern for other procedures.
  • Better placement. Fat grafting is done by placing tiny amounts of fat into the breast at a time. Because of this slow and methodical placement, it’s easier for the doctor to create an even, symmetrical appearance.
  • Lasting results. Unlike implants, you don’t need to get your breasts redone every few years. The results can last a long time!
  • Minimal scarring. Because the procedure is done through injections versus an incision, you won’t see surgical scars once you’re all healed up.
  • Low risk of adverse reaction. Using your body’s own tissue has its own advantages, one of them being a lower chance of an adverse reaction or rejection of the tissue. 


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Risks Of Fat Grafting Reconstruction

  • Fat can be absorbed. There’s a possibility that the fat injected doesn’t react well to its new home, even if it’s from your body. This could mean that the fat is “reabsorbed” by your body, at least in part. It’s actually expected that up to half of the fat transferred to your breasts may be reabsorbed at some point.
  • Fat cell death.  If your fat cells don’t receive enough oxygenated blood once they make their way into your breasts, they could die off,  called fat necrosis. This could cause pain, bruising, and lumpy breasts.
  • Your boobs can still sag.  Ultimately, gravity still takes its toll and the fat injected into your breast can’t stop any sagging that may come with time, changes to your body like pregnancy or nursing, or other body changes.
  • General risks. While it may be billed as “safer,” it’s still a medical procedure where you’ll undergo anesthesia and could be at risk for any other surgical complications, such as infection or bleeding.

What To Expect After Fat Grafting Breast Reconstruction Surgery

After your procedure, a nurse will take you to a recovery room to monitor you until you wake up from the general anesthesia. Once you get the thumbs-up from your doctor, you’ll be sent home with instructions for recovery.

Once home, you’ll be in “recovery mode” for one to three weeks, but this time may vary depending on how your procedure went and how much liposuction you had done. During recovery, you’ll likely have to change bandages and be careful with your incisions. 

Swelling and bruising may last for a few weeks, but you may go back to work and carry on with your normal activities with your doctor's permission. Each recovery period can vary, so it’s important to ask your doctor any questions you may have about movement and exercise after your surgery.

Recovery doesn’t end there, however. The newly-placed fat in your breasts can take months to permanently “settle in.” During this process, it’s very important to keep your breasts supported with a  post-surgery recovery bra that can hold them in place -- and in relative comfort -- while you fully heal. 

Breast Reconstruction Support With AnaOno 

As you recover, your new breasts will need lots of support. AnaOno’s line of recovery bras are all made from a super-soft and breathable modal fabric to keep you comfortable. Each bra is underwire-free and offers adjustable, thick straps that can be placed as you need them. Want to see more options? Find your perfect bra through our amazing  selection of post-surgery recovery bras

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Dana Donofree
Dana Donofree

Founder and CEO of AnaOno. After a diagnosis of breast cancer in her late 20’s, Dana took her own lived experience and fashion design background and (re)designed intimates for those that have undergone breast surgery. Dana’s story has been published around the world in outlets like New York Times, BBC, Huffington Post, The Today Show, and more.