Breast Fat Transfer vs Implants: Advantages & Disadvantages

When considering breast augmentation or augmenting other parts of the body, traditional breast implants are no longer the only option. There is also the possibility of using fat transfer techniques for natural breast augmentation.

With the option to choose between the two, anyone who is considering a breast augmentation procedure needs to think about which option might be better suited to the results that they want. Fat grafting isn’t always the right choice, and breast augmentation with implants could be the better option for some people.

Both implants and fat transfer have advantages and disadvantages, and these key differences should be explored before deciding which procedure might be best for your breast augmentation.

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fat transfer vs implants

What Are Breast Implants?

Breast implants are used to augment the breasts, sometimes to achieve a larger size or regain volume after losing weight or giving birth. Breast augmentation with implants can also be used to reconstruct the breasts after a mastectomy. Modern implants offer several types made with different materials. At VIDA Wellness and Beauty, we have saline, traditional silicone gel, and highly cohesive, form-stable silicone gel. The different types of implants have their own advantages and disadvantages, so it’s worth discussing with your surgeon which ones are right for you.

Breast implants are placed either over or under the pectoral (chest) muscle. Before the surgical procedure, there is also a choice for where the incisions are made for implants to be inserted, including under the arm, under the natural fold of the breast, and around the areola.

What Is Fat Transfer Breast Augmentation?

Fat transfer breast augmentation is an alternative method of breast enhancement with natural filling material via fat harvesting from another part of your body.

Why Is It Called Natural Breast Augmentation?

Fat grafting uses the patient’s own body fat and thus offers a natural way to augment the breasts, which can provide more natural-looking and natural-feeling results, which is why it is sometimes called natural breast augmentation.

The fat grafting procedure starts with fat harvest using liposuction techniques to harvest donor fat cells from an area of the body with excess fat. The fat cells are then purified before being reinjected into your breasts (or another part of the body that you want to augment) to become natural breast tissue. This means that you can both remove unwanted fat from an area where you don’t want it and augment your breasts or another body part (such as your butt) at the same time with fat injections.

Advantages of Breast Implants vs Fat Transfer

Using silicone implants or saline implants offers a number of advantages for augmentation. It could be the best choice for those who want to enlarge or lift their breasts.

1. Breast size and shape

Choosing implants means that you can select a breast size and breast shape that suits you. You are only limited by the implants that are available, whereas if you choose fat transfer, the amount of fat available makes a difference.

2. Safety

When it comes to the safety of breast implants, the procedure is something that has been carried out and tested for many years. Although there have been safety concerns related to implants, this has mostly been related to poor-quality implants or incorrect insertion. They are generally regarded as being very safe, especially with different types of implants to choose from.

3. Longevity

Another advantage of breast implants is how long they last. While breast implants don’t last for a lifetime, it should be between around 15 to 20 years before they need to be replaced. Unless you experience any complications, implants shouldn’t need to be replaced any earlier than this. Plus, recovery after implant replacement is often faster and less uncomfortable compared to the initial procedure.

4. Price

Silicone implants and saline implants can be the less expensive option when compared to a fat grafting procedure. This is because fat grafting requires two procedures to first harvest the donor cells and then inject them, whereas implants require only one procedure. However, it’s important to keep in mind that implants need to be replaced eventually, which adds to the total cost.

Disadvantages of Breast Implants vs Fat Transfer

There are also some cons of breast implants that should be considered when deciding between breast implants and fat grafting.

1. Recovery time

Generally, having implants inserted will mean a longer recovery time compared to fat transfer. However, the difference can only be a matter of weeks in terms of getting back to your usual activities. You will likely need to wait at least two weeks before being able to return to exercise and other activities.

2. Appearance

Today, breast implants can be made to look very natural, especially when you choose the right type of implants. However, some people feel that breast implants produce a less-natural look than fat transfer breast enhancement.

3. Risks

All surgery comes with risks, especially when performed under general anesthetic, as implant surgery is. There is also a very small risk of breast implants rupturing or deflating, which is something to consider. Although the risk of implant rupture isn’t large, it does get bigger as the breast implants get older.

Advantages of Fat Transfer vs Breast Implants

Fat grafting breast augmentation also has some excellent advantages that might tempt you to choose it over the traditional augmentation method of breast implants.

1. Natural

For many people, the appeal of breast fat grafting is that it’s more natural. Not only does it mean you won’t have any foreign material in your body, but it can create more natural-looking results too. However, it is still a major procedure, even if it is sometimes called natural breast augmentation.

2. Two procedures in one

One of the significant benefits of this method is it can tackle two things at once. If you want to augment one area but also reduce fat in another area, this procedure can help. You can remove fat where it’s unwanted and inject it into your breasts or another area where you want to increase the size, volume, or plumpness.

3. Less invasive

Fat transfer is still a major procedure, but it’s less invasive compared to implants. Injected fat doesn’t require general anesthetic or the large incisions that are required for inserting breast implants.

4. Ideal for uneven breasts or post-lumpectomy

In circumstances when implants may not be required, breast fat grafting can be a good choice. It’s ideal for evening up uneven breasts or restoring the shape of breast tissue after breast cancer or a lumpectomy.

Disadvantages of Fat Transfer vs Breast Implants

Breast fat transfer has its share of drawbacks, which are important to understand before going ahead with the procedure.

1. Breast size limits

This procedure can be ideal if you are looking for a modest increase in size. However, if you’re thinking about a more substantial increase, like enhancing your breasts more than half a cup size or so, implants are likely to be better. You’re limited by how much fat you have available to use from other parts of your body.

2. Longevity

While implants can last for many years, the results of a fat transfer might not last as long. The fat cells that are transplanted will often only survive a few years as they could be absorbed into the body and affected if you lose weight.

3. Price

It’s possible that it will cost you more than implants. It involves both liposuction techniques and injecting the harvested fat cells into the desired area. While these things can be done with local anesthetic and as an outpatient procedure, fat grafting can still be more expensive than implants.

4. Not suitable for all

The breast fat transfer method might not always be suitable for all patients. It works best for anyone who has some extra fat that they can use in another area of their body. If you’re particularly slim, you will probably find that you don’t have enough excess fat to harvest. Fat grafting is also not suitable for anyone who wants to go up by more than around a cup size.

5. Risks

Fat grafting might be referred to as natural augmentation, but it’s still a serious procedure with risks. It’s a newer procedure compared to implants, so the safety issues aren’t as well explored. It is a safe procedure, but it’s still a surgery that comes with some risks.

Should I Choose Breast Fat Transfer or Implants?

When to Use Implants

When should you choose implants for breast augmentation or to enhance other parts of your body? Implants are probably the best choice if you want to increase the size of your breasts by more than half to one cup size. This is more difficult to achieve with fat transfer.

Implants are also the better option if you’re looking for more long-term results. Implants will last for a long time, and you can wait for 15 to 20 years before you need to consider replacing them. Choosing implants could also save you money too, especially as they last for a long time.

When to Use Fat Transfer

A fat transfer could be a good option for people who want to both remove fat in one area and enhance another area. It’s often best for people who want more natural breasts or subtle changes, as it’s used to make a smaller change. It might also be right for those who want to even out uneven breasts or want to smooth out changes after a lumpectomy.

If implants seem like they would bring about too many dramatic changes in your form and you want more modest results, natural fat could be the right option.

Whether you choose breast implants or fat transfer, it’s essential to have the right board-certified plastic surgeon. Our plastic surgery team at VIDA Wellness and Beauty will ensure you are cared for at our clinic in Tijuana. Schedule a personal consultation today!

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Dr. Alejandro Quiroz

Dr. Quiroz is our board-certified Chief Plastic Surgeon at VIDA Clinic in Tijuana. He specializes in Facial Rejuvenation, Neck lift, Buttock Augmentation, Breast Augmentation, Body Contouring and more. He is member of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, American Society of Plastic Surgeons, International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, San Diego Plastic Surgery Society, the Mexican Society of Aesthetic & Reconstructive Plastic Surgery and the Mexican Council of Aesthetic & Reconstructive Plastic Surgery, to mention a few.