A Viable Alternative to Breast Implants

Pictured from left to right: Dr. Daniel Kuy, M.D., F.A.C.S.; Wendie Rivers, Certified Surgical Tech; Ellyn Meinerding, R.N., OR Supervisor; and Erin Spring, R.N.

Kuy Plastic Surgery, Inc.

Saline or silicone breast implants?

Women who are considering breast augmentation have been weighing the pros and cons of each for years. There is, however, a viable, more natural alternative to implants for women interested in enhancing their breasts because pregnancy, nursing, weight loss, surgery or force of gravity have taken their toll.

It’s called fat transfer breast augmentation, and the demand for this procedure is growing, says Daniel G. Kuy, M.D., F.A.C.S., Kuy Plastic Surgery, Inc.

“It’s an established procedure for breast reconstruction, and now, with its proven safety, it is used more today for enhancing the breast with more natural results,”
Kuy says.\

Fat transfer involves removing unwanted fat from one area (or areas) of your body and re-injecting purified adipose fat tissues into another area or areas of your body. The goal of any fat transfer procedure – also referred to as fat grafting – is to add fullness and volume to the area which receives the fat grafts, he explains. Fat injections are also commonly made to the face, lips, buttocks and hands.

This safe, well-tolerated procedure produces long lasting results, he notes. “It’s a very good, viable alternative to breast implants for women who are looking for a relatively small increase in breast size. Once the injected fat tissue has become a permanent part of the breast, you never have to worry about replacing anything.”

Liposuction Required

To be a candidate for breast augmentation with fat transfer or fat grafting, one must have some fat to spare. The unwanted fat cells are removed from a donor location on your body via liposuction.

“There can be a ‘two for one’ benefit if someone is having liposuction to contour an area of the body – whether it’s the buttocks, ‘love handles’ or thighs – and we can  ‘recycle’ the fat from the liposuction to produce the breast augmentation,” Kuy points out. “That would be the ideal candidate.”

The not-so-ideal candidate would be the person who might need a little bit of liposuction, but they want to increase their breasts more than a cup size or two, he adds. “They would have to be willing to undergo the entire procedure twice because we have limits on how much fat can be transferred at once.”

Once the fat is separated from the anesthetic liquid used during liposuction, it is condensed and injected into one’s breast or breasts to increase breast size. Between 250 and 300 cc of fat are needed per breast.

Implant Concerns

According to Kuy, the increase in demand for fat transfer breast augmentation may be due in part to a re-emerging concern regarding what is often referred to as breast implant illness or BII.

Although BII is not an official medical diagnosis, it’s a term often used by women with breast implants who self-diagnose and describe a variety of systemic symptoms they believe are directly connected to their saline or silicone breast implants.

Those symptoms have typically included fatigue, chest pain, hair loss, headache, chills, chronic pain, anxiety, brain fog, sleep disturbance, depression and neurologic and hormonal issues –  symptoms generally similar to autoimmune and connective tissue diseases.

“Breast implant illness has been reported and studied for 30 to 35 years,” Kuy explains. “In the 90s, there was a moratorium on silicone breast implants for augmentation, but in 2004 the FDA decided it could not see true correlation between autoimmune/connective tissue diseases and silicone implants, and they were allowed again.”

According to Kuy, the recent jump in patients reporting breast implant illness symptoms may well be related to social media. He points to one Facebook group alone that has more than 50,000 members, all reporting BII symptoms. Of even greater concern to Kuy, however, is the information “spreading like wildfire” on social media and on TV that those worried they may have BII should have their implants removed by undergoing a procedure called an enbloc capsulectomy.

“This can be a high-risk operation if not performed correctly, negatively affecting the ribs, causing bleeding as well as injuries to surrounding tissues,” Kuy cautions. “Some [plastic surgeons] are jumping on the enbloc capsulectomy band wagon, making themselves out to be experts when they are not, and they may be doing more harm than good. In many circumstances when there is no implant leak and/or capsular inflammation the implant can be removed safely without or with only part of the capsule and the same symptom
improvement may be achieved.

Kuy recommends women with breast implants have yearly physicals and follow-ups as a safeguard against developing possible problems.

“If you have fears, let’s talk,” he says.

Daniel Kuy, M.D., F.A.C.S., the medical director of Kuy Plastic Surgery and Swiss MediSpa, is certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. He specializes in  facial cosmetic surgery and body contouring. In addition to his practice in Cincinnati, Dr. Kuy also performs procedures in Zurich, Switzerland,
where he received his medical training and holds board certification.

Swiss MediSpa is located at 3825 Edwards Road, Suite #550, Cincinnati, OH 45209. For more information, call 844.794.7763 or visit www.swissmedispa.com