Addressing Hard Lumps After Fat Grafting Breast Augmentation

While fat necrosis – the lumps that sometimes appear post-fat transfer – is a troubling occurrence for patients after the fat grafting breast augmentation procedure, it is a benign event that is more of a cosmetic issue and a matter of physical comfort than a serious or life-threatening health concern. At Bedford Breast Center, we employ ultrasound guidance technology to locate any hardened tissue, and then use a small needle to remove and dissipate the masses of cells without affecting surrounding healthy breast tissue or compromising the appearance of the breast. If you have issues with hard lumps after fat grafting breast augmentation, don’t hesitate to contact the team at Bedford Breast Center for an immediate consultation.

Fat transfer, also known as fat grafting, is a popular technique for breast augmentation, as it utilizes the patient’s own tissues to sculpt and refine the breasts without installing a synthetic device. While the procedure is generally safe when performed by qualified plastic surgeons, it may lead to complications if performed too frequently or by a less-than-stellar practitioner. These complications are often the appearance of hardened and sometimes painful lumps in the breast, which are highly distressing for patients, though they aren’t cancerous, nor do they increase breast cancer probability. Nevertheless, they should be checked and removed, as they can be painful and can cause the breasts to appear misshapen.

What are the hard lumps after fat grafting breast augmentation?

Hardened masses that appear post-fat transfer breast augmentation are typically caused by fat necrosis. Fat necrosis is a common complication that may result in either hardened lumps or oil cysts. Oil cysts occur when fat necrosis dissolves and forms a calcified cyst over liquid fat, which feels smooth and pliable. Hardened lumps, on the other hand, may cause physical discomfort and cause the skin to bruise. When fat necrosis solidifies into scar tissue, it creates a solid inflexible mass that may be painful. Patients who experience fat necrosis after fat grafting breast augmentation may experience a combination of oil cysts and hardened lumps, both caused by fat necrosis.

Common fat necrosis symptoms are:

  • A firm or pliable lump in the breast after fat transfer
  • Redness surrounding the lump
  • Slight bruising surrounding the lump

What causes hard lumps after fat grafting breast augmentation?

Poor technique during fat transfer to the breasts can sometimes cause fat cells to die due to lack of oxygen and blood supply. This hardening of fat that may occur is called fat necrosis. Breast augmentation with fat transfer is a common trigger for fat necrosis, because the grafted fat cells may not survive, and ultimately form scar tissue. According to a study conducted by surgeons from the Cleveland Clinic multidisciplinary medical center of 171 patients who had fat transfer breast reconstruction post-breast cancer surgery, a little over 10 percent experienced fat necrosis an average of 3.4 months after fat transfer. None of the patients experienced a recurrence of breast cancer.

How are hard lumps after fat grafting breast reconstruction treated?

After your physician determines that the masses in the breast are due to fat necrosis and are not cancerous cells, you may elect to treat it or monitor it to see if it dissipates on its own. However, if the lump is causing significant discomfort or aesthetic problems, it may be advisable to address it surgically. Surgical intervention for fat necrosis generally involves needle aspiration, which will cause an oil cyst to dissolve quickly. Ultrasound guidance is generally employed to effectively locate all hardened lumps. The procedure will only involve local anesthesia, and recovery from the procedure is typically short – approximately two to four weeks depending upon the size and number of the lumps. Multiple lumps may require more than one treatment session.

While multiple fat grafting sessions can be necessary to generate the results the patient desires, Bedford Breast Center can recommend a team of highly skilled plastic surgeons at Cassileth Plastic Surgery who specialize in breast reconstruction through fat transfer. Patients served by our team experience significantly lower incidences of fat necrosis than the national average.

Bedford Breast Center: The Leading Breast Cancer Treatment Center in Beverly Hills

If you have found hard lumps after fat grafting breast augmentation, please contact the team at Bedford Breast Center for a consultation. We offer compassionate, comprehensive breast health services to women with all types of breast issues. For more information or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Heather Richardson at the Bedford Breast Center. Servicing Beverly Hills, Santa Monica and the greater Los Angeles area.