Dr. Nicolaidis was fortunate enough to hear the first formal presentation on fat transfer to the face by Sidney Coleman in 2000, when he was still working in New York. Fat is removed from the patient using liposuction, then concentrated and re-introduced in any area of the body desired. In order for the fat to survive, it has to be injected in small quantities and fine lines, surrounded by the patient’s tissues which will vascularize the fat. In the following years, progressively larger quantities of fat were transferred to other parts of the body, notably the breasts and buttocks. As larger quantities are injected in an area, more fat loses direct contact with the patients’ tissues, leading to resorption rates around 50% (meaning that 50 % of the transferred fat will disappear over time). If too much fat is transferred, cysts may form which can be misinterpreted on mammograms as possible breast cancer. A work-up then becomes necessary to eliminate possible breast cancer, yet another unpleasant experience for patients who’ve already been through a lot of suffering.

Concentration of fat in preparation for transfer

Patients who benefit the most from fat transfer to the breasts are obviously those had no or minimal breast tissue to begin with. Now try to imagine transferring fat in that patient’s very limited breast tissue right after explantation, when there is a great big empty pocket under the muscle (even worse if the pocket is above the muscle). If the fat enters that empty pocket, the fat will completely die and usually lead to an infection as well. For these reasons, Dr. Nicolaidis does not perform fat transfer to the breast at the time of explantation (except in particular cases). His focus initially is to minimize the folds using various breast lift techniques, which he will discuss with patients at the time of consult. Fat transfer is then used as a secondary procedure 4-6 months later in order to fill in the necessary areas and improve the appearance of the breast.

2 fat transfers

Anesthesia For Fat Transfer to the Breasts

Most cases require general anesthesia for maximum patient safety and comfort as well as more aggressive fat removal.

Surgical Techniques

Fat is removed from unwanted areas using various liposuction techniques. However, rather than throw out this fat, the fat is concentrated through numerous means and reinjected in areas of the breasts lacking fullness, typically the upper aspect of the breasts. Care must be taken in order to avoid excessive injections in any given areas in order to avoid fat cell necrosis (or death), leading to more fat resorption, or cyst formation.

Recovery after Fat Transfer to the Breasts

Patients are generally asked to wear a compression garment for one month after surgery in the liposuctioned areas. On the other hand, we try to avoid pressure on the breasts.

Return to Work after Fat Transfer to the Breasts

Patients can usually return to work in just a few days, though swelling and bruising usually take several weeks to subside.

Possible complications

The most common problem after liposuction involves irregularities of the skin surface, including depression or wrinkling. As already mentioned, up to 50% of the transferred fat can be resorbed (or disappear). Fat transfer risks include cyst formation, infection and microcalcification.

Post-op Instructions after Fat Transfer to the Breasts

In the first week after fat injection, be sure to :

  • Keep your dressings dry and clean ;
  • Wash with a sponge unless Dr. Nicolaidis says otherwise ;
  • Avoid pressure over the area of fat injection ;
  • Wear your compressive garments (if provided) at all times for the areas liposuctioned ;
  • Walk at least 5 minutes every hour during the day (do NOT simply stay in bed constantly).

Your first post-operative appointment for fat injection with Dr. Nicolaidis is very important, even if you feel very well. 

After the first week of fat injection:

  • Patients may shower;
  • Continue to avoid pressure over the area of fat injection for at least 2 more weeks ;
  • Protect your new scars from sun exposure for a total of 6 months ;
  • Continue wearing compressive garments (if provided) until Dr. Nicolaidis says otherwise ;
  • In order to avoid blood clot complications, keep moving (walk regularly during the day).

Please note :

  • It is normal to have some bruising in the area of fat injection in the first weeks after surgery.
  • For your comfort, be sure to take your pain medication as prescribed.

* Does not constitute a guarantee of results