Sucking fat from your hips and thighs and injecting it into your boobs or butt may seem like a dream come true—and for some, it is. The process, called fat transfer or fat grafting, involves removing fat from one part of the body via a gentle liposuction, and then injecting it elsewhere. It works well all over the body, but is most commonly used on the face to enhance cheeks, fill hollow lower eyelids, and build up areas that have lost volume due to aging, explains New Jersey plastic surgeon Parham Ganchi, M.D. It’s also commonly used to plump up butts and to increase breast size and improve breast shape.
Case 92: This procedure was all about correction of a droopy twisted tip. This patient was especially bothered by the tip’s tendency to drop and spread when she smiled, with a twist that made one nostril look higher than the other. After surgery, her nose is about as straight and symmetric as can be and the straighter bridge line makes her look younger.
If you’re researching “how much do breast implants cost,” chances are you are imagining all the benefits they offer. Breast augmentation is the top cosmetic plastic surgery procedure performed in the United States for a reason. Breast augmentations have a high rate of patient satisfaction according to research. In a study published in the May 2013 issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, researchers gathered information from 225 women after their breast augmentations. The study revealed that 91.1% of women felt improved self-esteem, 64.3% had an improved quality of life, and 98.7% would repeat the surgery. But there is another side to breast implants, one you should know about before scheduling your plastic surgery consultation. While the initial costs and satisfaction rates are similar between implant types, the long-term maintenance costs and emotional toll differs in important ways. Silicone gel breast implants carry a high rate of certain complications and an increased anxiety when compared to the newest breast implant on the market, IDEAL IMPLANT® Structured Breast Implants.

There are four general types of breast implants, defined by their filler material: saline solution, silicone gel, structured and composite filler. The saline implant has an elastomer silicone shell filled with sterile saline solution during surgery; the silicone implant has an elastomer silicone shell pre-filled with viscous silicone gel; structured implants use nested elastomer silicone shells and two saline filled lumen; and the alternative composition implants featured miscellaneous fillers, such as soy oil, polypropylene string, etc. Composite implants are typically not recommended for use anymore and, in fact, their use is banned in the United States and Europe due to associated health risks and complications.
Fat transfer surgery is a hot topic among today’s elite plastic surgeons. Dr. Mess researched and trained in fat transfer during her six-year residency at Georgetown University Hospital and incorporated the procedure early in her practice. She has refined her technique to offer the advantages of fat transfer to augment and reconstruct. Dr. Mess performs fat transfer to the face, breast, hands, and buttocks to add volume and fullness and restore a youthful and vigorous appearance.
A portion of fat will naturally absorb and effectively “disappear” as you heal. In order to prevent fat from reabsorbing, there shouldn’t be too much movement of the injected area right after surgery. Areas that shift a lot, like the lips, typically don’t hold on to fat very well. Pressure is also bad—fat that is injected into the butt can easily dissipate if patients sit on their bottoms a lot during the first couple weeks of recovery, says Ganchi. Ganchi tell his patients they either have to lay on their stomach or stand for the first four weeks after surgery (yes, really!). And since fat can absorb unevenly, some patients need more than one injection session to even things out—adding up to even more money spent.
1998 Germany Federal Institute for Medicine and Medical Products Reported that "silicone breast implants neither cause auto-immune diseases nor rheumatic diseases and have no disadvantageous effects on pregnancy, breast-feeding capability, or the health of children who are breast-fed. There is no scientific evidence for the existence of silicone allergy, silicone poisoning, atypical silicone diseases or a new silicone disease."[32]
Transumbilical: a trans-umbilical breast augmentation (TUBA) is a less common implant-device emplacement technique wherein the incision is at the umbilicus (navel), and the dissection tunnels superiorly, up towards the bust. The TUBA approach allows emplacing the breast implants without producing visible scars upon the breast proper; but makes appropriate dissection and device-emplacement more technically difficult. A TUBA procedure is performed bluntly—without the endoscope's visual assistance—and is not appropriate for emplacing (pre-filled) silicone-gel implants, because of the great potential for damaging the elastomer silicone shell of the breast implant during its manual insertion through the short (~2.0 cm) incision at the navel, and because pre-filled silicone gel implants are incompressible, and cannot be inserted through so small an incision.[75]
The ASPS and the Plastic Surgery Foundation (PSF) have partnered with the FDA to study this condition and in doing so created the Patient Registry and Outcomes For breast Implants and anaplastic large cell Lymphoma Etiology and epidemiology (PROFILE). The United States FDA strongly encourages all physicians to report cases to PROFILE in an effort to better understand the role of breast implants in ALCL and the management of this disease.[74]
After reviewing the medical data, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration concluded that TDA-induced breast cancer was an infinitesimal health-risk to women with breast implants, and did not justify legally requiring physicians to explain the matter to their patients. In the event, polyurethane-coated breast implants remain in plastic surgery practice in Europe and in South America; and no manufacturer has sought FDA approval for medical sales of such breast implants in the U.S.[93]
Recovery from fat transfer to the breast is relatively short. Patients will be advised on post-procedure bras and will have regular follow up with Dr. Mess. There will also be some recovery from the liposuction part of the transfer. In general, patients can return to normal activities in 2-3 weeks but are advised to avoid strenuous activity and any “fat burning” exercises for up to 6 weeks.
Another option is to consider getting your breast implants at a teaching hospital from a learning resident. You won’t get the delicate skill of an experienced, board-certified surgeon, but teaching hospital residents are “assisted by established, experienced, private attending surgeons,” says Beverly Hills plastic surgeon Dr. Robin T.W. Yuan in a RealSelf Q&A.
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