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measure cup sizeA fat transfer sounds like the ideal boob job. You take that fat from your waist that you’ve been trying to lose for years and use it to get the breasts you’ve always dreamed of. Why didn’t we think of that sooner?

Actually, it’s not a new concept. It’s just that it didn’t always work out that well and legitimate, board-certified plastic surgeons waited for a reliable, safe way to accomplish what’s known as fat transfer breast augmentation. In fact, in the late 1980s, the American Society of Plastic Surgeons® (ASPS) issued a sternly worded statement advising its members not to use this technique, citing the lack of studies supporting its effectiveness and concerns about interference with mammograms.

But the ASPS changed its tune a few years ago after newer studies reported fat grafting to the breast yielded very good results and that the changes seen on mammograms are “easily distinguished from abnormalities related to breast cancer.”

As more surgeons begin offering the technique, fat grafting for breast enhancement is emerging, as The Daily Mirror in England recently said, as one of “the big new things in boob jobs.”

A study published earlier this year proclaimed that using a patient’s own fat to augment her breasts “can produce better cosmetic outcomes. … In particular, the fat grafting technique can achieve a more natural-appearing cleavage — avoiding the ‘separated breasts’ appearance that can occur after breast augmentation” with implants.

More board-certified plastic surgeons are offering the procedure, which uses the same technique as a Brazilian butt lift: harvesting fat from one area of the body using liposuction and injecting it to augment another area. The fat is processed to ensure only healthy, viable cells remain before it’s injected into the breasts through small incisions, measuring less than the width of your fingernail.

Many patients who normally wouldn’t consider breast implants are attracted to the idea of “natural” breast enhancement.

“Fat transfer to the breasts is a common technique in Los Angeles,” says the website of South Bay Plastic Surgeons, a group of breast augmentation specialists in Torrance, California. “This procedure is often referred to as Natural Breast Augmentation or Natural Breast Enhancement.”

So why doesn’t everyone who wants bigger breasts simply go the fat transfer route? To begin with, some women don’t have enough excess fat to be good candidates for the procedure. And even for those who do, the procedure isn’t considered a good option for women who want to significantly increase the size of their breasts. Most surgeons say fat transfer breast augmentation works best when a patient wants to enhance her breasts no more than one bra cup size.

belly fat transferAdditionally, not all fat cells removed from one area of the body survive the transfer process. Most surgeons initially overfill the breasts knowing that some of the fat cells will die and be absorbed by the body.

Those dead fat cells can cause some problems during mammograms if they calcify or form a cyst. Although most radiologists can decipher the difference between suspicious shadows and calcified fat, some patients have undergone unnecessary tests to ensure the findings weren’t related to breast cancer. So patients at risk of the disease may not be good candidates.

As the technique is refined, however, many plastic surgeons expect more of their patients to request natural breast augmentation.

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