Fat transfer offers alternative for women wanting to remove breast implants

MIAMI – While breast augmentation remains one of the most popular cosmetic procedures, more women are choosing to remove their implants for personal or health reasons and some are opting for a more natural alternative instead, using fat from their own bodies.

Among them is Liz Lugo, who first decided to get breast implants in 2008.

“I was around a B-cup and I just wanted a little bit more. Peer pressure was one of the really big things and I just thought it would help my self-image,” Lugo said.

After switching from saline to silicone implants in 2018, Lugo started having issues with the implants shifting and decided to remove them altogether, but that also posed potential problems.

“One of the fears with removing implants is that you can get a subsequent deformity that actually looks worse than what patients had before their breast implants because as the pocket collapses, the nipple can invert, there can be wavy, irregular skin -- that type of thing,” said plastic surgeon Dr. Joshua Lampert.

Lampert gave Lugo another option: using her own body fat to improve the shape of the breast and reduce the risk of post-explant deformity.

“Fat grafting has become way more mainstream over the last 10 years in plastic surgery. We’re starting to understand how fat survives better when it’s transplanted, and I think that the technique of using low pressure, keeping things in a closed system -- meaning they’re not exposed to the ambient air and environment -- helps increase the fat survival,” Lampert said.

Because the procedure is very involved and time consuming, fat transfer is far more costly than implant surgery and there’s a longer recovery period, but Lugo felt it was well worth the time and expense.

“I’m really happy with the results. I actually feel like they look better,” she said.

With the proper technique Lampert said about 50 percent of the fat that’s transferred to the breast will survive long term, as long as patients maintain a stable weight.


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