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    Breast Augmentation With Fat Grafts Shows Promise, but Questions Remain, Plastic Surgeons Say

    Surgery to Lose Fat, Get Bigger Breasts?

    Breast Augmentation With Fat: Specifics

    Breast enhancement with transferred fat can cost $20,000, Coleman says. He acknowledges it's much higher than what is charged for breast augmentation with implants, but notes that it's actually two procedures.

    The average surgeon's fees for breast augmentation is about $4,000 and for liposuction about $3,000 (plus facility fee and anesthesia charges), according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery.

    How long the transferred fat will last is another unknown, he says, and will vary from one person to another. Doctors don't expect it to replace augmentation.

    Breast Augmentation With Fat: Concerns

    Even though fat grafting has been in practice for more than 20 years -- with surgeons now often using it to improve the appearance of faces and hands -- injecting the breasts for enhancement has sparked concern from some.

    "We know there are negatives to this," says Scott Spear, MD, chief of plastic surgery at Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, D.C., and another speaker on the panel. Chief among them is the concern that cancer might not be detected on a mammogram.

    In 2007, The American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery and the American Society of Plastic Surgeons issued a statement of caution about fat grafting to the breast, concluding it is not recommended for augmentation because of the lack of data and the possibility of hampering the detection of breast cancer. According to the statement, the procedure can be effective to enhance breast appearance after reconstruction, to soften the appearance of implants already in place, or to rejuvenate the hands and face.

    Among the potential risks of using fat grafts for augmentation, according to the societies, is death of the fat cells, calcification, or the formation of cysts or scars, the latter perhaps making it difficult to detect cancer on a mammogram.

    Fat Grafting: Addressing the Concerns

    In a study published in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery in 2007, Coleman reviewed 17 breast procedures using fat grafting, performed from 1995 to 2000. The grafts were used to correct congenital defects, deformity after implants, or to improve the appearance of reconstructed breasts.

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