- Reference Number: HEY-652/2020
- Departments: Breast Services
- Last Updated: 12 March 2020
You can translate this page by using the headphones button (bottom left) and then select the globe to change the language of the page. Need some help choosing a language? Please refer to Browsealoud Supported Voices and Languages.
This leaflet has been produced to give you general information about this procedure. Most of your questions should be answered by this leaflet. It is not intended to replace the discussion between you and your doctor, but may act as a starting point for discussion. If after reading it you have any concerns or require further explanation, please discuss this with a member of the healthcare team who has been caring for you.
Lipomodelling is an operation in which fat is removed from one area of the body, such as the tummy or thighs, and then is injected into the breast to improve shape, contours or volume. It is also called autologous fat transfer, or fat grafting.
Why do I need lipomodelling?
Lipomodelling can be used to improve breast shape and volume in a number of clinical situations. These include breast reconstruction after mastectomy (when lipomodelling is usually used in combination with other reconstruction surgery, such as implants or a latissimus dorsi flap); partial breast reconstruction after a lumpectomy for breast cancer; after benign breast surgery; and to correct natural breast asymmetry.
Can there be any complications or risks?
Lipomodelling is generally a very safe procedure with low complication rates. The area where the fat is taken from (the donor site) will usually be bruised initially, though this settles in around 2 to 3 weeks. Patients are advised to purchase supportive underwear to wear after surgery to help reduce the bruising and any discomfort. A small number of patients experience pain or numbness at the donor site and in a very few, this can be permanent.
The breast itself is not usually very painful after the operation. Occasionally the injected fat forms a lump. This is called fat necrosis and is easily diagnosed on an ultrasound scan. These areas usually settle after a few months. Rarely, bleeding can occur inside the tissues and form a lump called a haematoma.
Again, this will usually settle without treatment. Infection is very rare. Although it is very unlikely, it is not yet known whether lipomodelling can increase the risks of breast cancer developing or recurring, though to date it appears to be quite safe. If you have had a previous breast cancer, your surgeon may want you to have mammograms before surgery.
How do I prepare for lipomodelling?
You are advised to purchase supportive underwear to wear after surgery to help reduce bruising and any discomfort in the area the fat has been taken from. You should bring this with you to hospital to put on after your operation.
What will happen?
Lipomodelling is usually performed as a day case operation under general anaesthetic. It can be done alongside other surgery, such as breast reduction or uplift on the opposite side, and then an overnight stay in hospital might be required.
The fat is taken by liposuction, through very tiny incisions. Fat can be taken from any part of the body though the commonest donor sites are the tummy and thighs.
The fat is processed in theatre to remove any blood or damaged cells and is then injected into the breast through further very tiny incisions.
About a third of the injected fat will be reabsorbed by the body over the first 3 months after surgery. After this time, the remaining fat will be stable as long as you do not lose or gain significant amounts of weight.
Some patients need more than one treatment and these will be at least 3 months apart.
What happens afterwards?
After the procedure you should continue to wear your supportive underwear as advised.
Should you require further advice on the issues contained in this leaflet, please do not hesitate to contact the Breast Care Unit (01482) 622633
General Advice and Consent
Most of your questions should have been answered by this leaflet, but remember that this is only a starting point for discussion with the healthcare team.
Consent to treatment
Before any doctor, nurse or therapist examines or treats you, they must seek your consent or permission. In order to make a decision, you need to have information from health professionals about the treatment or investigation which is being offered to you. You should always ask them more questions if you do not understand or if you want more information.
The information you receive should be about your condition, the alternatives available to you, and whether it carries risks as well as the benefits. What is important is that your consent is genuine or valid. That means:
- you must be able to give your consent
- you must be given enough information to enable you to make a decision
- you must be acting under your own free will and not under the strong influence of another person
Information about you
We collect and use your information to provide you with care and treatment. As part of your care, information about you will be shared between members of a healthcare team, some of whom you may not meet. Your information may also be used to help train staff, to check the quality of our care, to manage and plan the health service, and to help with research. Wherever possible we use anonymous data.
We may pass on relevant information to other health organisations that provide you with care. All information is treated as strictly confidential and is not given to anyone who does not need it. If you have any concerns please ask your doctor, or the person caring for you.
Under the General Data Protection Regulation and the Data Protection Act 2018 we are responsible for maintaining the confidentiality of any information we hold about you. For further information visit the following page: Confidential Information about You.
If you or your carer needs information about your health and wellbeing and about your care and treatment in a different format, such as large print, braille or audio, due to disability, impairment or sensory loss, please advise a member of staff and this can be arranged.