Synergistiq Wellness


Implants vs. Fat Transfer for Breast Augmentation

Breast augmentation is a 60-year-old procedure in the United States. For many years, breast implants were the only option women considering breast augmentation had in the US

However, in 2008, the American Society of Plastic Surgeons reversed its halt on approving fat transfer for breast augmentation after improvements in safety and technology made fat transfer a viable, safe, and effective option.

Now that you have two cosmetic procedures to choose from when considering breast augmentation, it’s vital that you understand the pros and cons of each before making a choice. In 2023, both cosmetic procedures are safe, effective, and approved in the US. 

However, your personal preferences and aesthetic principles will determine which procedure is best for your breast augmentation. In this post, Synergistiq Wellness—the leading body sculpting specialists in Tampa—will break down the pros and cons of implants and fat transfer techniques, so you are fully informed before drawing any conclusions. 

Book a free, no-obligation consultation to learn more about fat transfer breast augmentation. 

Let’s begin by exploring how each cosmetic procedure works.

How Does Fat Transfer Work For Breast Augmentation?

Fat transfer, or fat grafting, is a cosmetic procedure that involves taking your own fat cells from one part of your body and transferring it to another part of your body to enhance or enlarge that area. Fat makes up a large percentage of natural breast tissue.

Adding more of your body fat to your breasts results in the most natural look and feel—more natural than the most natural filling material found in implants.

The fat transfer procedure has many applications beyond breast augmentation and is a safe and effective way to enhance your breasts without surgical scars or implants.

Fat transfer breast augmentation can be thought of as a three-step cosmetic procedure.

  1. The plastic surgeon performs liposuction on the donor site—the area from which you are taking fat. This is sometimes referred to as a fat harvest. For fat harvesting, the donor site is located on your thighs, buttocks, or abdomen. This is a great way to remove unwanted fat.
  2. Your fat is purified and prepared into an injectable liquid so that it stands the best chance of surviving the grafting process.
  3. The plastic surgeon carefully injects your purified fat into your breasts to enhance their size or alter their shape (if you need corrective plastic surgery). The injected fat stands a better chance of surviving because of the purification process.

How Do Implants Work For Breast Augmentation?

Breast implants are made of silicone or a mix of silicone and saline solution and are inserted and positioned through small incisions by a qualified, board-certified plastic surgeon during breast augmentation surgery.

Traditional breast implants offer women a greater variety of sizes and shapes to choose from, and the results are usually more pronounced and predictable than the results of a fat transfer breast augmentation procedure. However, the results of implants might look less natural than the results of fat transfer for breasts.   

Pros of Fat Transfer For Breast Augmentation

Let’s explore the pros of the fat transfer breast augmentation procedure. 

1. More Natural Looking

The results of a fat transfer breast augmentation tend to be more natural looking. This is partially due to the fact that the results are not as pronounced as the results from breast implant surgery, which can drastically alter the size and shape of your breasts. 

The other reason the results from a fat transfer tend to be more natural is that the plastic surgeon is using your own body fat to produce natural breasts and not synthetic materials.

2. No Foreign Material In Your Body

Many women may feel hesitant to have foreign materials inserted into their bodies long-term. With implants, there is always a small risk that one might rupture or shift position, leading to complications that aren’t possible with fat transfer breast augmentation. 

3. Less Invasive Than Implants

Both the liposuction and fat transfer procedure are less invasive than saline and silicone implants, which requires a plastic surgeon to cut incisions and insert foreign objects into your body. The recovery time for implants tends to be longer due to tissue swelling from the trauma and incision healing.

4. Can Help Even Out Uneven Breasts After A Lumpectomy

Fat transfer breast augmentation can help correct lumpy or uneven breasts. This is especially true for women who received a lumpectomy and need corrective plastic surgery. This body contouring procedure produces natural feeling and natural-looking results.

5. Doesn’t Permanently Affect Breast and Nipple Sensation, Which is a Risk With Implants

With implants, there is a small risk that you could lose sensation in your breast or nipples due to nerve damage from the implant procedure. For fat grafting breast augmentation, losing breast or nipple sensation is not a major risk factor because the plastic surgeon uses your own body fat to add to your breast shape.

6. Take Fat From One Area Of Your Body To Improve Appearance

Fat transfer procedures are two-for-one cosmetic procedures. You not only enhance breast size and shape naturally, but the procedure requires that you get liposuction. 

If you have excess or unwanted fat around your abdomen, thighs, or buttocks that you’d like removed, a fat grafting breast augmentation can help you reduce the fat in the donor site while you enhance the size of your breast tissue. 

Cons of Fat Transfer Breast Augmentation

However, there are some drawbacks to the fat transfer breast enhancement procedure you need to be aware of. 

1. Limited By How Much Fat You Have on Donor Site

You need to have enough excess fat on your donor site in order to extract enough for an effective fat transfer procedure. Fat transfer breast augmentation might not be an option for women who do not have enough extractable fat.

2. Can Be More Expensive Than Implants

Because fat transfer breast augmentation involves both liposuction and fat grafting, it can cost more than traditional implants. Though the final price of either procedure depends on the scope of work needed, fat grafting procedures may end up costing you more. 

However, the total amount a breast augmentation procedure costs can vary drastically due to many factors, such as the surgeon’s fees, the town or city where you are receiving the procedure, and the type of anesthesia you need. Just because implants can be cheaper doesn’t mean that they always are.

3. Newer Procedures Tend To Carry More Risk (Still Safe)

Successful, FDA-approved fat transfer procedures are newer procedures than breast implant surgery, which has existed since the 1960s. Though fat transfer procedures are approved in the US and are considered safe, newer procedures tend to have fewer data backing up their safety than procedures that have decades and decades of data.

4. Might Not Last As Long As Implants

There is always a chance that the fat transferred during the fat grafting procedure might not survive the fat grafting process. This means the actual breast volume might not match a woman’s expectations, as some of the fat cells were reabsorbed by the body.

Also, fat cells are alive and dynamic, which can impact how long a fat transfer lasts. If you lose weight, the fat cells in your breast may shrink, which can result in smaller breast size over time. Likewise, excess fat cells in your breasts can grow if you gain weight.

Pros of Implants For Breast Augmentation

Now, let’s explore some of the benefits of breast implants for breast augmentation. 

1. More Variety When Choosing Size and Shape

With breast implants, you know exactly what size and shape you are getting. Breast implants come in a variety of materials, sizes, and shapes. Breast implants are a more customizable breast augmentation procedure, and women can choose from silicone implants or saline implants.

2. The Procedure Is Considered Very Safe

There are 60-plus years of data on the safety and effectiveness of breast implant surgery. This procedure is safe and effective. However, note that all plastic surgery procedures come with inherent risks. 

3. Implants Can Last 15-20 Years or More

Breast implants are durable and can last a long time—as long as 15 to 20 years or more. Depending on your age and preferences, implants could be a lifelong investment. However, note that replacing or correcting breast implants requires additional invasive surgery. 

4. The Procedure Can Be Cheaper Than Fat Transfer

Depending on the cost of the implants themselves, breast implant surgery can be less expensive than fat transfer breast augmentation surgery. However, the total cost depends on many factors. From surgeon’s fees to the fees associated with anesthetics, two women receiving similar procedures could end up paying dramatically different amounts for plastic surgery. 

Cons of Implants For Breast Augmentation

Finally, let’s explore some of the cons of breast implant augmentation surgery.

1. Longer Recovery Time For Breast Implants

Breast implant surgery is an invasive procedure. The incisions required to insert the breast implants and position them into place are much larger than the incisions required by the fat transfer procedure.

Breast implant surgery also results in more swelling and inflammation than fat transfer breast augmentation. Overall, there is a longer recovery time associated with breast implant surgery than with fat transfer for breasts.

2. Some People Believe The “Implant Look” to Be Unnatural

There are a variety of implant sizes, shapes, and materials available that lead to a wide range of results, ranging from natural to unnatural. And certainly, some implants can look and feel quite natural. However, the bigger the breast size, the more apparent the breast implant will be.

Implants are synthetic materials inserted into the body. Despite best efforts, there will always be some evidence that a woman received breast implant surgery.

If you prefer a more natural look and feel, then you should opt for fat transfer breast augmentation. 

3. Small Risk of Implants Rupturing, Leaking and Deflating in the Body

Though breast implants are very safe, there is always a risk that your breast implant can rupture, break, or shift due to trauma or natural wear and tear over time. Though not likely, if this occurs, additional surgery will be needed to fix the problem.

4. The Procedure May Permanently Affect Breast and Nipple Sensation

Women also need to be aware that the breast implant procedure can lead to loss of sensation in the breast and nipple area. Though the risk is small, the plastic surgeon can accidentally damage a nerve while making the incision or when inserting and positioning the implant. 

5. Capsular Contracture—Procedure May Cause Permanent Scarring Around Implant and Breast Distortion

When inserting foreign objects into the body, there is always a chance that the body will react negatively to the object, resulting in fibrous scarring. When this happens around breast implants, it’s called capsular contracture. 

A certain amount of capsular contracture is expected and helps create a barrier between the body and the implant. However, when the capsular contracture is hard and dense, it can cause chronic pain and distort the shape of the breast. 

Capsular contracture can appear anywhere from a few months to several years after your breast implant surgery. There is evidence that radiation therapy can increase the risk of developing capsular contractures. 

Capsular contractures require corrective surgery. 

When Are Breast Implants The Right Choice?

Breast implants are the right choice for you if you—

  • Don’t have enough fat in a donor site to reliably undergo a fat transfer
  • Want drastic changes to your breast’s size and shape
  • Want guaranteed results that last 10-plus years
  • Are ok with the look and the feel of breast implants

When Is a Fat Transfer Breast Augmentation the Right Choice?

Fat transfer breast augmentation is the right choice if you—

  • Want to maintain natural-looking and feeling breasts
  • Have enough fat in a donor site
  • Want to also receive liposuction
  • Prefer subtle breast enhancement
  • Do not like the idea of foreign objects being implanted into your body
  • Prefer less invasive procedures

Curious About Breast Augmentation? Schedule a Free, No-Obligation Consultation at Synergistiq Wellness

Interested in natural breast augmentation in Tampa? At Synergistiq Wellness are the body sculpting experts to trust. If you think fat transfer breast augmentation is right for you, schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with us today!

*The information on this page was reviewed for accuracy by the Synergistiq Wellness team. Learn more about us.