As society continues to demand that everything be ‘natural,’ it would make sense to shift from breast implants to fat injections to the breast for breast augmentation as well. Is it that simple? Can we substitute saline or silicone breast implants with your own natural fat and get the same results? A few years ago, some doctors would say they are equivalent but I think that is changing.
Implants vs fat injections to the breast
In the past, breast implants were the mainstay of breast augmentation. However, with the risk of leaking silicone and capsular contracture (deformation of the breast due to scar tissue), they got a bad wrap in the 90’s and early 2000’s. They were taken off the market but with extensive development, implants got better. The FDA re-approved silicone implants in November of 2006.
These newer silicone implants were gel, not liquid, so even if they got a hole in the shell, the implant would keep it’s shape. That’s why the implants are likened to a gummy bear. If you cut a gummy bear in half, it keeps its shape. Similarly, the silicone gel implants would keep their shape in the event of a rupture.
Even with these new improvements in implants, there were also advances in fat harvesting and fat treatment. Once an alternative to implants came on the scene, more patients considered and received breast augmentation with fat injections, not implants. But as more women took this route, their surgeons started to notice something. Patients that wanted breast augmentation wanted an “augmented” look which meant fullness in the upper portions of the breast (the upper pole). That’s easily accomplished with a breast implant but not with fat.
Upper pole fullness? Not with fat injections to the breast!
So now you see surgeons changing their game plan. Whereas fat injections were once a first line technique for breast augmentation, they’re now a second line treatment. When patients want the upper pole fullness, implants are recommended. But if they’ve had problems with implants (infection, rupture, capsular contracture) and they need to be removed, the back up plan is to remove the implants and place fat. The patient may not get the fuller upper breast they always wanted. But at least they’ve removed the problematic implants and kept their breasts full with fat.
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