There are some cosmetic surgeons who are carrying out breast, buttock and face augmentation using the patients’ own fat. The surgeons are removing fat from a patient’s body by liposuction and mixing a part of the fat with stem cells harvested from fat and injecting the stem cell enriched fat into the breasts for cosmetic enhancement. Fat grafting is also adopted for buttocks reshaping and facial enhancement.

Breast augmentation by fat transfer: The concept of breast augmentation by fat transfer has been around for quite some time, but earlier attempts to augment breast by autologous fat transfer were not successful in achieving optimal fat survival i.e not enough proportion of fat survived after a certain time. The aim is to have maximum proportion of the injected fat survive permanently.

For many years in the past, augmenting breasts with fat transfer was not acceptable due to apprehensions about the effects on patients’ health. But with new scientific knowledge and techniques available, the ban was lifted in March 2009.

There was also a view that lack of space in the breast structure was responsible for poor survival rate of the injected fat. Some surgeons tried techniques of pre-expanding breasts before fat injections by using suction pumps and special bra which is worn for some periods before and after the procedure. The long term results of this technique are not yet known.

Now, the cosmetic surgeons are promoting the use of stem cell enriched fat (fat in the body contains a certain amount of stem cells) which is supposed to survive permanently. The fat is collected by liposuction from the patients’ body parts e.g thighs, abdomen. The injected stem cell enriched fat can lead to a better survival of the fat, so a 200 cc to 400 cc overall breast size increase can make the enlarged breasts look and feel very natural without the use of synthetic implants. The procedure is nearly pain free and a patient requires 48 hours to return to work.

The advantages of this fat transfer technique appear to be several – at least some of the fat augmentation can be permanent and it has no known typical problems while the implants may have to be replaced for many reasons and have potential problems of scarring and rupture; it does not interfere with future mammograms and new digital mammograms can evaluate calcifications while the implants may block some of the breast tissue from the mammogram view.

Breast enhancement with autologous fat is said to be ideal for the person who has lost fullness in her breast due to age, weight fluctuations, and breast feeding. A 1 cup size increase and more fullness are expected from this procedure. However the person who would not be happy with anything less than a 2-3 cup size increase should consider breast implants.

Buttock augmentation by fat transfer (Brazilian Butt Lift): The fat is collected by liposuction from the patient’s lower back, waist and flanks(love handles) which are adjacent to the buttocks  and “specially treated” and injected in the buttocks with tiny injections to achieve smooth, even and shapely augmentation. Drawing the fat from the adjacent parts of the buttocks helps in securing an attractive body contour in that entire zone.

After the procedure the patients should avoid sitting on the buttocks for two to three weeks and wear compression garments to reduce swelling. The patients may be able to return to work after two weeks in most cases and resume all normal activities within four weeks.

Facial fat grafting:  This is a suitable procedure for people who have lost facial volume resulting in sunken cheeks, temples and eyes and pronounced bone contours. Fat is collected from stomach, hips or outer thighs by tumescent liposuction and injected into the target facial part or parts.

Facial fat grafting can restore the fullness of the face and make it look younger. It can, in some cases, replace facelift procedure thus avoiding the down time and expenses of face lift. However, fat grafting may require more than one session.

Recovery period after the procedure is short and depends on individual healing characteristics. The swelling and bruising which are common should go away in about two weeks time.