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Are Fat Injections Safe for Breasts?

Fat Injections OK for Reconstruction 'Touch-ups,' but Its Use for Breast Augmentation Needs More Study, Plastic Surgeons Say

Fat Injections for Breasts: Trials

Recruitment is under way for at least two clinical trials, both listed on the federal clinical trials Web site.

One, led by Scott Spear, MD, chief of plastic surgery at Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, D.C., is seeking 20 women, aged 20 to 50, to undergo liposuction and fat grafting to augment their breasts.

Another, led by Roger Khouri, MD, a Miami plastic surgeon, will study augmentation with fat in combination with the use of the Brava system. The system includes semi-rigid domes worn over the breasts for several hours a day to induce breast tissue growth before the injections are done.

Fat Injections for Breasts: Perspective

Using fat grafts for augmentation "needs to be looked at in a credible, scientific way," says Adams, a participant in the fat injection panel.

Adams and other experts say that aside from the need to prove fat injections for augmentation safe and effective, there are other issues for women and physicians to consider. They include:

  • Time. Breast augmentation with implants may take about an hour to an hour and a half, but breast augmentation with fat can take five or six hours, Adams says. "A lot of patients need to be re-injected," he says.
  • Expense. The average surgeon's fee for implants is about $4,000 and for liposuction about $3,000, according to the American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. But breast augmentation with fat injections can cost about $20,000, Coleman says.
  • Results. With implants, "the typical enlargement is two cup sizes," Spear says. "And 99% of the time the patient ends up with a predictably enlarged breast. The downside is, they have an implant that may not feel entirely natural and may have to be replaced in their lifetime. Fat injections rarely enlarge more than one cup size, often less than that, and the results are not predictable or guaranteed. But when it is successful, they have a breast that is their own tissue."
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