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Fat Grafting in New York City

ProceduresFat Grafting

Introduction to Fat Grafting

Sometimes, a woman wants a little bit more volume in certain parts of her body. In particular, the breasts are an area of focus for many women beginning at puberty. Some women want larger natural breasts without using breast implants. Other women have undergone total or partial removal of their breasts for treatment of cancer and would like to restore their breasts without using breast implants or complex flap procedures. Still, others have asymmetric breasts – whether congenital or due to surgery – that they would like to be closer in size and shape. One method to increase breast size, restore breast form, or improve symmetry between two breasts is fat grafting. Fat Grafting is a procedure that can help rebuild appearance that is becoming popular not just among breast cancer survivors, but also among women looking to improve the size and shape of their breasts without implants. At our practice in New York City, we have helped many women feel more comfortable in their bodies by using fat grafting to sculpt and enhance their physical appearance. Dr. Constance Chen is committed to helping patients solve their reconstructive and aesthetic problems. Below, have included a guide to fat grafting, but if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us!

Fat grafting, also known as autologous fat transfer, is a technique for breast reconstruction and breast augmentation in which excess fat is removed from one part of the body by liposuction, and transferred or “grafted” to another part of the body with cannulas. The most common sites for fat graft harvest are the abdomen, flanks, legs, and back.

Who are the Best Candidates for Fat Grafting?

The best candidates for fat grafting should:

  • Currently be in good health
  • Maintain realistic goals for the treatment
  • Be a nonsmoker
  • Not have issues with abnormal bleeding
  • Possess sufficient fat to transfer
Drawing of woman's body

What are the Benefits of a Fat Grafting?

Fat grafting is achieved through very small 2-3 mm scars that are usually well hidden. In addition, it is an outpatient procedure that does not require an overnight stay in the hospital. Finally, patients who are prone to blood clots will find that fat grafting is safer for them than a longer operation. We routinely use fat grafting in a second stage to improve outcomes after breast reconstruction and fat grafting can also be used for cosmetic breast augmentation. Fat grafting is well-suited for:

  • Filling minor differences in shape
  • Balancing or positioning one breast to obtain symmetry with the other breast
  • “Augmenting” the breast, or making it larger

Since it is accepted that a significant percentage of the fat will be reabsorbed by the body, however, it is usually necessary to overfill a defect to reach the desired outcome. For larger defects or for total breast reconstruction, it is usually necessary to undergo multiple rounds of fat transfer.

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What’s the First Step?

If you are interested in fat grafting, the first step is to contact our office in New York City to set up an appointment with Dr. Chen. When you come in for your consultation, Dr. Chen will assess your breasts to determine whether or not you are a viable candidate for fat grafting. She will also give you a realistic idea of what your surgery and recovery will look like. Once it has been determined what the best course of treatment would be for you, her office staff can provide you with a cost for your procedure.

Fat Grafting Breast Reconstruction

Unlike flap transfer, in which tissue such as skin and fat is transferred with a blood supply, fat grafting does not involve any relocation of a blood supply. The fat can only survive if the nutrients spontaneously diffuse across the cell walls by osmosis. The fat needs to be specially processed to remove all of the impurities – either by washing, centrifuge, or filtering. Since there is no blood supply for the fat, about 30-50% of the fat typically does not survive the transfer process.

Fat grafting is generally an outpatient procedure. For this reason, some patients wonder if it is a “safer” operation than microsurgical free flap breast reconstruction, and inquire about using fat grafting to rebuild an entire breast. While fat grafting for complete breast reconstruction is definitely possible, patients must understand that fat grafting can be unpredictable with regard to fat “take” and total breast reconstruction with fat grafting will require multiple procedures. Many rounds of fat grafting are needed to obtain the same volume of tissue that is achieved in one operation with a flap transfer. In addition, this is because the amount of fat that needs to be harvested for fat grafting is significantly greater than what is usually aspirated in purely cosmetic liposuction. Patients also need to understand that poor “take” of their fat graft. in which most of their fat graft does not survive, may result in “using” up” the fat from her best donor sites so that flap surgery is much more difficult.

When it comes to autologous tissue breast reconstruction, breast reconstruction using a free flap is often more consistent and reliable than breast reconstruction using fat graft alone. That said, many women want to avoid the large scars from free flap breast reconstruction in addition to the long operative times under anesthesia. Furthermore, women who have hypercoagulable disorders that predisposes them to blood clots may be poor candidates for microsurgical breast reconstruction. Smaller outpatient procedures that are repeated at regular intervals to build up a breast using natural tissue may be preferable for many women. Finally, fat grafting is an excellent technique when used as an adjunct procedure to improve breast reconstruction. For this reason, fat grafting is one of the most commonly performed procedures in our practice and one in which we have had great success.

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What to Expect on the Day of Fat Grafting?

Prior to your procedure, Dr. Chen will mark the areas where fat will be removed and injected. Next, the anesthesiologist will prepare you for general anesthesia. Once the anesthesia takes effect, fluid will be injected into the site of the body receiving liposuction to help remove the fat cells easier and lessen potential bleeding. During the procedure, Dr. Chen will use a low-pressure liposuction technique to remove fat from the donor site. The fat is then processed and grafted via injection into the breast. In general, Dr. Chen will plan to overfill the breast because your body can absorb some of the grafted fat.

Fat Grafting Recovery

When you are finished with the procedure, the donor sites will be covered with a compression garment to minimize the swelling and provide support during the healing process. The recipient sites should not be compressed because the fat cells need to be protected to minimize fat resorption. You will receive recovery instructions before you go home.

You will need to wear your supportive garment the entire time during recovery, as well as take any prescribed medications for your pain and to prevent infection. You should use this recovery time to take it easy and relax for the most optimal healing outcome. You will probably experience some soreness, bruising, and swelling for the first few weeks in the areas treated with liposuction.

Recovery time varies for different people, but most people should plan to take 2 weeks off work. In a normal healthy person, full wound healing is usually achieved at 6-8 weeks, but swelling can take up to a year to resolve completely. When you come in for your follow-up visits, Dr. Chen will be able to assess your healing and inform you of when you can resume more strenuous activities.

Why Choose Dr. Chen for Fat Grafting

Dr. Constance Chen has specialized expertise using innovative and natural techniques that optimize medical and cosmetic outcomes for women. She has won multiple awards locally, nationally, and internationally, and is well recognized as a leader in her field. She is a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons and is a board-certified plastic surgeon. Dr. Chen understands that every woman has her unique concerns and treatment preferences, and she is known for giving every patient highly individualized attention. Dr. Chen is a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons and is a board-certified plastic surgeon.

How Much Does Fat Grafting Cost in NYC?

The cost of Fat Grafting in NYC varies from patient to patient depending on the treatment plan. The best way to get the most accurate cost will be to be seen and evaluated in a consultation with a physical examination. After a treatment plan has been established, the office staff will be able to give you a full breakdown of the costs and do their best to answer any questions you may have.

Schedule Your Consultation

When you are ready for Fat Grafting Surgery in NYC, we encourage you to contact our office and schedule your consultation with Dr. Chen. She is ready to meet with you and help you achieve the breasts and body that is right for you.


Fat Grafting FAQs

Is Fat Grafting painful?

Fat Grafting can be uncomfortable for the first couple of weeks, especially for very thin women. In particular, you may experience some soreness in the areas where the liposuction is performed. After the first few weeks, the discomfort improves substantially and most patients no longer need any pain medication.

How many procedures will I need?

The number of procedures needed depends entirely on how much volume you want in the recipient site. For someone who only wants to be a little bit larger, one round of fat grafting may be sufficient. For another patient who wants complete breast reconstruction after mastectomy, multiple rounds of fat grafting will usually be necessary. Each round of fat grafting is separated by at least 3 months so that the patient’s body can fully heal in between. Some fat will always resorb after fat grafting, and it takes several months to evaluate how much fat has been retained. Thus, while a tentative timeline can be created at the beginning of the journey, the number of sessions will ultimately depend on how much fat your body retains after each round of fat grafting.

How long until I see results?

Immediately after surgery, your breasts will be swollen, and all of the transferred fat will be in your breasts. Over time, the swelling will subside, and some of the fat will be resorbed by your body. On average, it may take 3-6 months to get a sense of how much of the fat graft is retained by your body.

Can I combine Fat Grafting with other procedures?

Certainly! Many of our patients will combine their fat grafting with other types of cosmetic and reconstructive procedures. Some other breast procedures include a breast lift or breast augmentation (with or without implants), autologous flap procedures (rearranging your body’s own tissue), and implant-based breast reconstruction.

What are the risks associated with Fat Grafting?

With all surgery, Fat Grafting does have its share of risks associated with the procedure, which can include but are not limited to:

  • Bruising at the liposuction donor sites
  • Asymmetric breast shape and appearance
  • Fat reabsorption
  • Fat necrosis
  • Hard calcified lumps
  • ​​Infection
  • Mix of cystic and calcified lumps
  • Muscle weakness
  • Numbness
  • Painful lumps
  • Pain in the surrounding tissue
  • Oily cystic lumps
  • Redness around the lumps
  • Scar tissue
  • Skin discoloration
  • Uneven skin at the liposuction donor site
  • Loose skin at the liposuction donor site
If you experience any of these symptoms or have any concerns about the possible risks, please contact our office so that we can help you through them.

Many of our patients have volunteered to speak with other women who may have questions about what it is like to go through restorative breast and body surgery. If you would like to speak with someone who has already gone through the process, please contact us and we will find a “buddy” for you.


The Bosom Buddies are available for emotional support, practical tips, sharing stories, and other types of real life help that can help other women feel more comfortable and safe in their journey.

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Please reach out to us with any questions that you may have. If you would like more information or would like to make an appointment, we would be happy to speak with you. We look forward to helping you throughout your journey.

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As one of the leading breast reconstruction specialists in the United States, Dr. Constance Chen has been featured in over 100 news and media publications and journals over her years in practice.

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