Fat grafting ( also called autologous fat transfer ) is a surgical procedure used in breast reconstruction to obtain improved contouring for a more natural appearing and symmetrical breast. Fat grafting is used in breast reconstruction after a mastectomy or partial mastectomy (lumpectomy) to reconstruct a breast, or in addition to implant and muscle flap based reconstruction, to provide more fullness to an area or to disguise the edges of an implant or implant rippling. Fat grafting is also used after radiation therapy to the breast to improve the changes to the breast often associated with radiation therapy.
Fat grafting is a procedure performed in the operating room, usually with anesthesia. Fat is removed or “harvested” by liposuction techniques from an area of your body, usually the abdomen or thigh area. The fat is then prepared and meticulously injected into the area with the defect, very small amounts at a time, to sculpt the area and to reconstruct the most natural breast possible. The fat that is grafted to the breast area depends on a blood supply to survive. Often, it is necessary to perform more than one fat graft procedure to obtain the most optimal results.
For some breast reconstruction techniques, fat grafting is done in conjunction with the use of an external breast expansion device called BRAVA. The BRAVA device is worn for a few weeks prior to the fat grafting procedure to expand the breast skin and tissue to prepare a “matrix” of space and blood supply, in which to inject the fat, to improve the fat graft “take”.