Alternatives to Breast Implants: What You Should Know

Updated on April 28, 2020

Have you decided that breast augmentation is not a good option for you? Want to weigh other options? Well, many patients are choosing not to go under the knife. 

Some of the reasons may include an aversion to risks such as scarring. Cost may also be another limiting factor. Misinformation about what breast augmentation entails could also lead to some patients looking for alternatives. Prior to this, consider learning more about the procedure itself. You may find that it assuages some of your fears. If you live in Chicago, check to learn more.

1. Fat Grafting

Having an artificial implant, saline or silicone, inserted inside the breast to enhance its size can be substituted with fat grafting, a more natural technique. It involves the use of fat as a filler. There are no cuts or incisions, instead, the fat is injected.

The advantage of having fat inserted through syringes is that there will be no scarring. Surgeons are well versed in fat grafting thanks to its popular use even in the face or buttocks area. In fact, the first recorded incident of fat transfer was in the 1890s. In breast surgery, fat grafting is also used to correct minor defects in the shape or position, particularly after reconstruction.

So, how does it work?

Fat grafting has four major steps.

Step 1: Tissue Harvesting

The surgeon will choose the site for fat harvesting. It’s often called a donor site. The best places to find contours are thighs, buttocks, abdomen, and flank. Extraction is done through liposuction, but there are other methods as well. Unwanted fat is targeted for transfer to areas where it is needed. 

Surgeons mark the sites where fat is removed and where it will be transferred. Local anesthesia will be used if a few sites are involved, but general anesthesia could be recommended for fat transfer that involves many sites. The device inserted into the body is called a cannula. Tunnels or holes created in areas of fat harvesting collapse after a few weeks.  

Step 2: Processing

The samples extracted from liposuction consists of oils, debris, adipose tissue, and other substances such as smooth muscle cells. The fat cells have to be isolated from the blood, oil, etc. Sometimes stem cells are added to the fat before injection. 

Step 3: Site Preparation

Before fat grafting, the doctor assesses your anatomy and may recommend a tissue expansion device to be worn for about 2 – 4 weeks. 

Most probably, you’ll use the BRAVA® battery-powered device that uses suction to stretch the tissue on the transfer site. It’s also attributed to increasing blood supply to the region and even relaxing the surrounding tissue.

Step 4: Re-injection

The cannula is also used to re-inject the fat cells into the breast area. Incisions made with the cannula are so small that they are sometimes not closed with sutures. Going home on the same day is the norm. The only requirement afterward is wearing a compression garment. Medication should help with any pain.

1. Things to note about fat grafting

  • The patient should have sufficient fat reserves for harvesting. Dumpling may occur if the surgeon takes out too much fat from an area.
  • The skin should not be loose or taut that is why surgeons recommend the use of the Brava® device. 
  • On the site of the fat transfer, there should exist a sufficient blood network. 
  • Now, this procedure might not lead to a significant increase in size like breast augmentation.

2. Auto-augmentation breast enlargement

With auto-augmentation, the surgeon will not insert a breast implant. However, they just use the patient’s skin to lift the breasts and give them a fuller shape. 

The surgeon may remove excess skin, which minimizes future sagging. Breasts will have a perkier appearance and the patient has significant control over the cleavage. 
There are obvious advantages to an auto-augmentation, in that there is no use of breast implants that are typically not designed to last forever. The emphasis is on getting a more natural look, and it is much easier for the surgeon to achieve this.

3. Breast firming creams

Are breast firming creams good breast augmentation alternatives? Well, from the onset, many promise miraculous results, which should be a red flag. 

In essence, they just contract and tighten the skin around the breasts. The aim is that they will make the breasts firm and perky. However, their effect is only thought to last for a short period, meaning that you must continuously use the topical creams.  In terms of price, patients can expect to pay about $30 to $200 for these creams, though results are not guaranteed.

4. Using external breast prostheses, push up & padded bras

Also called an artificial breast, the external breast prosthesis will be concealed under clothing to create a fuller breast shape. Prostheses are popular with women who have had mastectomies and don’t necessarily want to undergo further surgery.
Shopping around for a prosthesis is guaranteed to be a ride. That is because there are many options available. Some go with special bras to hold them in place. Others can be strapped against the skin.     

Are they similar to padded bras? Not quite. Padded bras come with pads in the cups to give your breasts a more fullness. They might give patients the experience of having larger breasts if they are contemplating surgery to make the change permanent. 

Push up bras are also different, and instead of pads, they have foam padding to help push the breasts upwards giving the appearance of more cleavage.

Final Word

With options such as fat grafting, auto-augmentation, using padded bras, etc., there is no need to endure breast augmentation surgery until you’re truly ready. 

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