Fat Injection After Breast Reconstruction

This information explains fat injections after your breast reconstruction surgery. It also explains how to care for yourself at home after your fat injection procedure.

About Fat Injections

Fat injections can help your breast look more natural after your breast reconstruction surgery. The injections can soften creases and indented scars in your breast.

The area where the fat injection is given is called the recipient site. The recipient site is usually in your cleavage area, the upper part of your breast, the side of your breast, or all 3.

The area where the fat is taken from is called the donor site. The donor site can be on your abdomen (belly), buttocks, or thighs. Before your procedure, you and your doctor will decide where your donor site will be. You may have more than 1 donor site if more fat is needed or if you have more than 1 fat injection procedure.

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Getting Ready for Your Fat Injection Procedure

You should bring a compression (tight) garment (such as Spanx®) to your procedure. You will wear the compression garment home to help control swelling in your donor site after your procedure.

 
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What to Expect During Your Fat Injection Procedure

Your fat injection procedure will be done in the operating room with general anesthesia (medication that makes you sleep during your procedure) or in your doctor’s office with local anesthesia (medication that numbs an area of your body). Most procedures are done in the operating room with general anesthesia.

During your procedure, your doctor will take fat from your donor site and inject it into the recipient site in your breast using a needle, small incisions (surgical cuts), or both. The procedure will take 1 to 2 hours.

If you brought a compression garment to wear after your procedure, a member of your healthcare team will put it on you right after your procedure. If you had general anesthesia during your procedure, you may not remember them putting it on.

If your donor site is on your abdomen and you didn’t bring a compression garment with you, you will be given an abdominal binder (wide, stretchy belt that goes around your abdomen).

After your procedure

  • You will have 1 to 2 dissolvable sutures (stitches) at your donor site incisions. You may also have Steri-Strips™ (strips of paper tape) over the incisions. The area will be covered with a gauze dressing (bandage).
  • You may have a dissolvable suture, Steri-Strips, or both at your recipient site incisions on your breast.

You will have scabbing at your recipient and donor sites. You may also have swelling, bruising, and soreness for 1 to 2 weeks after your procedure. Follow the guidelines in the next section to help manage these.

Your doctor may give you a prescription for antibiotics to take at home after your procedure.

 
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Instructions for Caring for Yourself at Home

  • Keep the bandages on your donor site for 48 hours (2 days) after your procedure. While the bandages are in place:
    • Don’t shower or get the bandages wet. You can take a sponge bath, but be careful not to get your bandages wet.
    • You may have some pink or reddish discharge (liquid) coming from your incisions. This is normal.
    • Change the bandages if they get wet or dirty.
  • After 2 days, you can take the bandages off your donor site.
    • Don’t take your stitches out. They will dissolve on their own in 1 to 2 weeks.
    • If you have Steri-Strips on your incision, don’t take them off. Your doctor will remove them during your first follow-up appointment.
    • When you shower, you can gently clean your incisions using soap and water.
  • If your doctor told you to wear a compression garment, wear it all the time for 1 to 2 weeks after your procedure, even if your bruising or swelling goes away. You can wear it for longer than 2 weeks if you still have bruising, swelling, or soreness around your incisions.
  • Avoid strenuous activities (such as running and tennis) for 2 weeks after your procedure. Most people can go back to doing their usual activities after 2 weeks. Follow your doctor’s instructions.
  • If you have soreness or discomfort around your incisions, you can take an over-the counter pain medication such as ibuprofen (Advil® or Motrin®), naproxen (Aleve®), or acetaminophen (Tylenol®). Often, these medications work best to manage pain after this procedure. If these OTC medications don’t ease your pain, you can also take the pain medication your doctor prescribed instead.
  • Call your doctor’s office to schedule a follow-up appointment for 1 to 2 weeks after your procedure.
 
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Call Your Doctor or Nurse if You Have:

  • Redness, warmth, or increased pain around your incisions.
  • Any changes in your incision sites, such as pus-like drainage, oozing, or separation (the sides of the incision coming apart).
  • A temperature of 101 °F (38.3 °C) or higher.
  • Chills that make you shake.
  • Sudden shortness of breath or any difficulty breathing.
  • New swelling, redness, or drainage in another part of your body.
  • Pain that isn’t eased by your prescription pain medication.
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