Breast Reconstruction, Mastectomy

How to Prepare for Fat Grafting After Breast Cancer

Having gone through fat grafting after breast reconstruction now two times three years apart, I want to share my insight to help others navigate the experience. There are some things I have learned that will help you navigate the experience of fat grafting recovery with more ease. Let's jump into how to prepare and what to expect with recovery.

woman showing how to prepare for Fat Grafting After Breast Reconstruction_Comparison

What Is Fat Grafting After Breast Cancer

In a prior post I go more into depth on the fat grafting process but essentially fat grafting uses liposuction to remove fat from certain parts of your body (usually stubborn fat areas), and then re-inject it into other areas after it's gone through a cleansing process. In the case of those that have gone through breast cancer and reconstruction, many times the reconstructed breasts do not look as natural as desired due to a lack of breast tissue. By injecting fat into the breast area, doctors are able to give patients a more natural appearance.

Learn more about why I chose to have fat grafting.

woman preparing for Fat Grafting After Breast Reconstruction_compression binder

What to Expect After Fat Grafting 

When preparing for your fat grafting experience, there are a few things to keep in mind and items to purchase to make your experience and recovery smoother.

Be Prepared for Intense Pain.

Having gone through all the breast cancer surgeries, the liposuction pain as part of the fat grafting process was the most painful of them all. The liposuction process causes a lot of internal cell damage resulting in bruising and intense pain for 2-3 days. The intense pain usually subsides after 2-3 days (much faster than mastectomy recovery), but you should be prepared to be sore and tender for a good 4-6 weeks following the fat grafting process. Mentally it helped me to know the pain was temporary and it's SO important to stay on top of your pain management with your prescribed medication.

woman in the hospital bed Fat Grafting After Breast Reconstruction _hospital

Fat Grafting Bruising & Swelling

Everyone's level of bruising and swelling will be unique. My experience with bruising and swelling after fat grafting was even different between my two sessions. Last time I had more bruising, less swelling and this time it was the alternate. These are some of the things that helped me. Consult your doctor before taking any supplements.

  • Use arnica gel on your bruising
  • Take arnica tablets prior to the procedure
  • Keep the compression on to help with swelling
  • Stay hydrated to help with swelling
woman showing body after Fat Grafting After Breast

Fat Grafting Recovery List 

Compression Garments & Clothing

After your fat grafting procedure you will have to wear compression garments on the areas where you have had fat removed. In my case, the fat was removed in the abdomen and the sides (first time only). During my first session, my surgeon had me wear compression for 6 weeks and this time I only had to wear it for 1-2 weeks. Your surgeon will provide you will guidance.

For the first few days I recommend the Marena compression garments. They are professional grade and recommended by both my surgeons. The more the compression, the better it feels when you move as well during those first few days of pain

When you transition out of 24/7 compression, I like these lightweight compression shorts. You can also use bike shorts, spanx or other compressions items. Your hospital will also send you home with a binder, but they are usually bulky and not easily worn with clothes as you transition through your fat grafting recovery.

In terms of recovery clothing, I suggest loser sweatpants, comfy tops and/or easy dresses you can slip off and on. You won't want anything tight on the area where you had the fat removed. In about a week I was back to my normal clothing and wore the high waisted compression shorts underneath.

Fat Grafting After Breast Reconstruction_compression garments

Recovery Bras

If you need compression (usually when you have more reconstruction or cancer procedures combined with fat grafting), I suggest this bra from AnaOno. I wore it nonstop during my recovery and it's great that is hooks in the front and provides that support and light compression. If you want the fabric version over the mesh one I am wearing below, try this style. 

For the rest of my recovery, I alternated my favorite True & Co bras and other AnaOno bras because they are super soft and comfortable. Keep in mind you will likely have swelling and you'll want a bra that has some stretch. 

You can always use 'CANCERCHIC' for 15% OFF on your Ana Ono purchase OR route your bra purchase through insurance for reimbursement. 11/14/22-11/28/22 Use code VIP4EVER for 35% OFF all items.

Fat Grafting After Breast Reconstruction_scar

Fat Grafting Recovery Restrictions

After your fat grafting procedure you will likely have restrictions for a few weeks. The fat grafting itself only requires about a week of restrictions but if your fat grafting is combines with other procedures such as breast reconstruction revision or implant pocket changes, you may have longer restrictions. In my case I was not able to lift over 5lbs for a week and I have exercise restrictions for 6 weeks. At 4 weeks, my pain is almost gone and I was able to get back to normally routines a few days after surgery with the help of pain medication. By one week I was off the pain meds and fully functioning despite the tenderness.

My Fat Grafting Recovery & Results 

While everyone's fat grafting results will be different, it's so helpful to have photos to refer to when prepare for the procedure. For reference, I had a double mastectomy and implant reconstruction prior. Three year's prior I had my first round of fat grafting and I would say about 50-60% of the fat "took" which is average. The rest was reabsorbed into the body. There is a risk of fat necrosis, which everyone should be aware of. I was lucky not to experience that.

fat grafting after breast reconstruction results
Fat Grafting After Breast Reconstruction_mastectomy scar healing

Fat grafting Scars

When it comes to scaring you will have 2-4 incision points for the liposuction and injection. Mine are by my pelvic bone and my breasts. In the past session my scars healed great with vitamin E oil. Since I have a larger scar this time from my revisions aspect of the procedure, my surgeon recommended this tape made from silicone sheeting that is supposed to help the scar heal more smoothly.

I am so thrilled with the results and hope they stay this way for many months to go. Have more questions or want to connect, follow me on Instagram where I am most active.

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Fat Grafting After Breast Reconstruction_results and recovery

Breast cancer survivor, lover of style, beauty and all things pink! Inspiring you to thrive through adversity. 





    April 12, 2021Reply

    I just had another revision to my left foob (non radiation side) last week, and more fat grafting added to both sides. Less than 6 months between my surgeries. The liposuction part of the revision is definitely the worst pain and the slowest part of my recovery. I have a tear inside from one of the tubes so I have to be extra careful when bending. I also had to have a mesh sling added over my left implant to help hold it in place, as that side has more pliable skin. It is attached to my interior chest muscle so there is some discomfort, but not what I consider as pain. Your results look amazing! I’m still healing and praying daily this will be my last surgery for a while. Thank you for helping me throughout my two year cancer journey with all your wonderful information and advice!


      April 12, 2021Reply

      Sending so much love and healing. I hope you will find happiness with your results.


    April 14, 2021Reply

    I’m going for my breast implant and fat grafting from tissue expanders in the coming weeks. Glad I found this site, thanks for all the info about the fat grafting,soo helpful!
    Hopefully, all goes well and on to the next chapter. If you can do it, I can do it 🤗


      April 15, 2021Reply

      Maddie. I am thrilled I could be a resource. Sending you a huge hug and lots of healing energy!


    July 14, 2021Reply

    Thank you so much for posting this article. You look amazing. I will be having my implant exchange Aug 4 and then later fat grafting. I know about the fat reabsorbing into the body – but is this something that happens initially and what stays, stays and we don’t have to go back or more fat years later?


      July 16, 2021Reply

      Hi Maura, I will be sending love for your implant exchange and fat grafting. By 3 months after surgery, you will be able to see how much of the fat was reabsorbed and that will help you decide if you want to go back for additional sessions.

    Lucie Caslavska

    October 13, 2021Reply

    Hello, your website is so helpful! I just had a expander/implant exchange last week and I hate how it looks, I have rippling in the skin and the implant edges are more visible than I expected. I am glad I came across this post, I will ask my PS about fat grafting to make it look better. I only had single mastectomy and then I found I have genetic mutation, so maybe it will be best to wait till my second mastectomy and exchange is done as I imaginer I will have similar result in the other breast. Thank you for being so brave and honest and I wish you the best.

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