Getting through the fear, pain, and treatment of breast cancer to emerge as a survivor is an incredible feat that should be celebrated.
But most women also experience significant damage to or loss of their breasts during treatment, either due to a mastectomy or lumpectomy; both of which can be a huge blow to emotional health.
For this reason, many women opt for breast reconstruction surgery. You might think that implants are the only choice for rebuilding the breasts, but thanks to advances in fat transfer procedures, natural breast augmentation is now also an option.
Option 1: Breast Implants
Breast implants are the most popular method of reconstructing the breasts after mastectomy. Implants are artificial breast inserts filled with either silicone or saline, though there is debate over which material is superior.
- Can produce a more uniform appearance for double mastectomy patients
- Well-established method of reconstruction
- Can be performed using less additional tissue from the body
- Can be easier to increase breast size, depending on fat available
- Less natural look and feel than tissue transfers
- Often require replacement later in life (can be as often as every 10 years)
- Sometimes result in a “rippling” appearance under the skin
- Ruptures can occur
- Carries risk of complications (infection, capsular contracture, etc.)
Fat transfer to the breasts is a newer procedure that allows patients to use fat from other areas of the body to fill out and reconstruct the breasts. Adult stem cells from fat can also be used to grow new fat to improve results. Purified fat harvested for a natural breast augmentation may also be banked (frozen) for future use.
- Extremely flexible and custom
- Natural appearance
- No foreign substances in the body
- Very little chance of rejection
- Eliminates body fat while rebuilding the breasts
- Safer with fewer complications
- Doesn’t require replacement
- Virtually no scarring
- No general anesthesia needed
- Can be harder to achieve uniform appearance
- Patient must have enough body fat to achieve desired results
- Requires several injection sessions to achieve full reconstruction
- Only about 75%-80% of grafted fat survives permanently
In addition to the two breast reconstruction methods discussed above, there are also other options for rebuilding the breasts after a mastectomy including the flap method. It’s important to carefully consider all the options and decide with your plastic surgeon, oncologist, and general surgeon which method is right for you.
It’s especially helpful to discuss these issues prior to your mastectomy, if possible, as accommodations for future restoration can sometimes be made by performing a liposuction procedure and banking your fat and stem cells for future use in the breasts.
If you are interested in learning more about fat transfer to the breasts, contact our fat transfer New York centers in NYC or Long Island for a free consultation.