Plastic Surgeon Recommends Breast Implants Over Fat Transfer

Amidst growing interest in fat transfer for breast augmentation, Seattle plastic surgeon Dr. Wandra K. Miles asserts the safety and reliability of breast implants, and cautions that long-term effects of fat transfer are unknown.

Seattle, Washington (December 2013) — Plastic surgeon Dr. Wandra K. Miles ( who specializes in breast augmentation at her Seattle practice, says that using fat transfer for breast augmentation is a concept that is still in its early stages, whereas breast implants have a proven track record for safety and effectiveness.

Fat transfer, also sometimes called autologous fat grafting, involves removing fat from one area of the body where it is unwanted (usually around the abdomen, hips, or thighs) and transferring it to another. For instance, surgeons can move fat to the face to plump up the lips or cheeks, or to the buttocks or breasts for greater volume in those areas.

Although research has brought about improvements in fat transfer techniques, Dr. Miles says, the results for breast augmentation are not as reliable as those created by breast implants. Also, it is still unknown if fat over a long term will result in difficulties with interpretation of mammogram studies.

"The problem is that when fat is used, the body naturally reabsorbs some of it," says Dr. Miles, who has many years of experience with breast implants in clinical trials and in practice. "Right after the procedure, the patient may have a lot of new volume, but some of that volume will disappear over time as the body absorbs the fat. That doesn't happen with breast implants. Another concern is the risk for fat necrosis. This can result in a palpable mass, which may result in unnecessary biopsies."

The rate of fat survival in fat grafting procedures varies greatly – from 25% to 80% according to one study. Dr. Miles believes that most breast augmentation patients want a more reliable outcome.

"Most of my patients have a fairly clear idea of the size and shape they want from their breast augmentation," she says. "With breast implants, I know I can create results that meet or exceed their expectations."

Dr. Miles says she sees potential in the value of fat grafting in plastic surgery. She uses it to correct contour defects or help soften the appearance of breast implants for her Seattle breast reconstruction patients. She also uses it in some facial rejuvenation procedures as a dermal filler. Still, she prefers to use a tried-and-true option for her breast augmentation patients.

"The long-term results of fat transfer for breast augmentation are still unknown," she says. "Patients with breast implants, on the other hand, are the most satisfied plastic surgery patients year after year."

Dr. Miles is participating in a breast reconstruction study involving fat transfer, and she says she has seen numerous benefits. One thing many patients like about the method is that it is all natural.

"Many women like the idea of using their own tissue rather than a synthetic implant," she says. "Plus, there's the added benefit of fat reduction in another area of the body."

Like many plastic surgeons, Dr. Miles is waiting on more long-term studies of fat transfer for breast augmentation before she embraces the procedure. "I plan to continue following the research and making recommendations for my patients based on what I think will give them the most beautiful results," she says. "That may in time include using fat transfer. Breast implants are continually improving, too, so I'm excited about the future of breast augmentation."

Find out more about how your shape can be improved with breast augmentation. Seattle breast augmentation surgeon Dr. Miles will be glad to hear your goals and talk you through your options. Request your personal consultation online or call us at 206-215-6221 and plan to meet her in her downtown office on Boren Avenue.

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