Consider the possibility of being able to reshape your body, like a sculptor creating elegant contours in a work of art. Now elaborate on this vision so that you can reuse the bits chiseled off to add a little here and there. For example, to enlarge the breasts and firm the buttocks. Now that would be a real step forward in cosmetic surgery. This vision has the makings of becoming a reality with autologous fat transplantation.

Up to 80% of women are unhappy with how they see their naked body in front of the mirror. Even women who train at the gym cannot change where their body will store fat. A hundred sit-ups every day will not spot reduce fat from around the belly. We are all born different shapes and sizes and it is our genetics which determines where our body will store fat. There are several typical body shapes applicable to women such as apple and pear. Pears typically store fat around their buttocks, hips and thighs; apples typically store body fat around their waist and bust. The point is that through natural controls such as diet and exercise, we cannot sculpture our bodies to take a little from here and add a little there.

A cosmetic surgery procedure called autologous fat transplantation allows fat to be taken from one area of the body and used to supplement another. So unwanted fat from the belly or thighs could be used for breast augmentation for example. This sounds ideal, body sculpturing now appears to be possible! The concept of transplanting fat is not new. In fact, the early attempts at breast enlargement in the early 1900s used fat injections to augment breast size. However, the effects were not particularly long lasting as the injected fat became absorbed back into the body. The result was lumpy breasts and infections and swellings were also common.

The use of autologous fat transplantation in breast augmentation cosmetic surgery has progressed over the last few years. More recently, the technology to isolate adipose derived stem cells from fat during surgery has been developed. So fat can be removed from one area of the body through liposuction, the stem cells can be isolated quickly and then re-injected into the patient's breast tissue to enlarge the breasts.

There are several advantages of autologous fat transplantation over synthetic breasts implants. Firstly, fat transplantation can prove to be a cheaper option when compared to typical breast enlargement surgery prices, particularly when it is combined with another surgical procedure, typically liposuction. There is minimal scarring as the fat is injected into the breast tissue rather than a surgical incision being needed in order to insert silicone or saline implants. Also, because the fat is taken from the patient's own body, there is no chance of an allergic reaction or complications such as capsular contracture as with synthetic breast implants.

Unfortunately, one of the main issues with fat transfer breast enhancement is the duration of the results. The factors influencing this include the expertise of the surgeon, the patient's genetics, how well a blood supply establishes around the injected fat tissue and the patient's lifestyle choices. Patients who smoke are at a higher risk of excessive resorption where the fat disappears back into the body tissue at an early stage. Due to the non-permanent nature of fat transfer, patients often require a repeat treatment after 6 months. However, the fat harvested initially during liposuction can be frozen for reuse in later treatments. Additionally, only a local anaesthetic is typically needed in order to re-inject the fat into the breast tissue. Since the procedure is less invasive, the recovery time for patients is much quicker than with silicone or saline breast implant surgery.

Another issue to consider is that of size. Depending upon the level of transformation required in breast size, then silicone or saline breast implants may be necessary as fat transfer can only provide a limited increase in breast size.

Finally, when fat has been injected into the breast tissue makes it is much more difficult to detect breast cancer with mammograms.

Autologous fat transplantation is now becoming more popular in both the U.S. and Europe. In addition to breast enlargement, it is used for other cosmetic surgery procedures, in particular the plumping up of facial features, cheeks and chin and is a popular alternative to other wrinkle treatments. It is used to correct aging of the hands and also to correct post-traumatic and post-surgical defects in many areas of the body.

No doubt our capabilities within fat transfer cosmetic surgery will advance to increase its longevity. It is also likely that solutions to its other shortcomings will be found in the near future. This really does look a promising and exciting thread of advancement within modern cosmetic surgery.