Scottish Daily Mail
Bigger bust and smaller thighs in one jab
It takes flab from your legs to boost your boobs. Is this the perfect cosmetic op?
ASLIM size eight, Marie Johnson is proud of her shapely figure. And well she might be, seeing as she’s recently spent a hefty £7,500 boosting her cleavage from a B to a D-cup.
But this is not the tale of yet another boob job — rather a boob jab. Marie has undergone an alternative bust-boosting treatment called ‘fat transfer’, where fat was liposuctioned from her thighs and injected into her breasts.
And like increasing numbers of women opting for this less painful procedure, she is delighted with the results.
‘My breasts are fuller and firmer but look totally natural,’ says the 45-year-old accountancy officer from West Yorkshire. ‘And my thighs have been sculpted a little, too. So it’s two for the price of one!’
So could this radical technique spell the end of boob jobs as we know them? Or is it all too good to be true?
Experts have expressed concerns that the transferred fat might harden and form oily cysts or scar tissue, or even encourage breast cancer — although this has not been proven.
The conventional boob job, using implants, is the UK’s most common cosmetic surgery — with 8,619 operations carried out last year. But figures show demand has dropped by nearly a quarter, which may be due to the PIP breast implant scandal of 2012.
And statistics from whatclinic.com suggest there’s been a 220 per cent increase in enquiries about fat-graft breast enlargement over the past 12 months.
Known by a variety of names — fat grafting, lipoaugmentation or lipocontouring — fat transfer promises a more natural look and shorter recovery times.
‘I was fairly happy with the shape of my breasts,’ says Marie, who is currently single. ‘I’ve not had children so they’ve not become saggy. But they were losing volume on top. I didn’t like how I looked from the side. My breastbone seemed more prominent as the breast tissue wasn’t so plump.’
It’s not that she wanted a ‘huge bust’, she says, and she rejected the idea of implants because she ‘didn’t like the idea of foreign objects in my body’.
As soon as she heard about the treatment, she booked a consultation with Dr Martin Kinsella, from the Re-Enhance Clinic in Wakefield, West Yorkshire. ‘He said I should have just about enough fat to harvest from the tops of my legs with liposuction,’ says Marie. ‘I went away to think about it and save up the money. It was a lot — £5,000.’
Dr Kinsella, who’s offered fat transfer at his clinics in Cheshire, Yorkshire and London for five years, says: ‘Any incisions are tiny and there’s no scarring. We don’t use general anaesthetic, just local and some sedation. There’s no chance of allergic or adverse reaction as it uses your own tissue.
‘And it’s long-lasting — once the fat settles and gains a blood source, it’s permanent, unlike fillers.’
SO In June 2014 Marie decided to go for it. ‘I was nervous,’ she admits. ‘I was conscious and chatting throughout the procedure but felt calm. I did feel the odd twinge — nothing I couldn’t cope with.
‘The whole process took about two hours: an hour for the lipo, half an hour while they prepared the injections, then half an hour to put the fat into my breasts.’
Dr Kinsella explains that he’s able to keep treatment time to a minimum because he uses a form of water-assisted liposuction called Bodyjet. ‘Liposuction usually uses either chemicals, ultrasound or water to break down fat so it can be sucked out of the body,’ he says.
‘Bodyjet is a more gentle form of lipo that leaves fat cells viable, so they can be used immediately.’
Two incisions are made under the breasts and the fat is then injected. And the effect is immediate: ‘At first, there is swelling that will go down, and a proportion of the fat we put in is reabsorbed by the body,’ he says.
‘So for the first few weeks women’s breasts may look bigger than they’d imagined. The final look can be seen around three months after treatment.’
When Marie got home, she tried on her sister’s E-cup bra and was amazed it fitted. She says: ‘I had a moment of panic, thinking: “What have I done?” but over the next few weeks the swelling reduced. It was never painful and I just had to wear a supportive,
normal bra. I was very pleased with the eventual result. My breasts were even, smooth and fuller. I was between a large B and a small C-cup.
‘No one noticed but that wasn’t my aim. I wanted to feel more confident and curvaceous in clothes.’
Marie was so pleased that this year she went back for more — plumping up to a small D-cup, which cost an extra £2,500. ‘It’s been worth the money,’ says Marie. ‘I feel like I fill out clothes better now. I have a cleavage I can show if I want. It has really boosted my confidence.
‘No one has ever asked if I’ve had something done. I think it’s because they look so natural. I did go on a few dates with a man who’d known me before I had the fat transfers.
‘He cheekily suggested there was something different about me, but I didn’t let on. After all, my breasts are real, they’re all me.’
Dr Kinsella, however, points out that it isn’t for everyone: ‘Realistically, we can add one to two cup sizes. Any more would require implants.
‘It is good for smaller-breasted women who want a modest increase in volume and whose weight is stable.’
According to Dr Kinsella, more and more women are choosing the technique to improve the look of existing implants. ‘Sometimes women feel they look too obvious, perhaps because they’ve lost weight, or have encapsulation — where scar tissue forms around the implant,’ he explains.
Emma Toolan, 42, a personal assistant from Altrincham, Manchester, was one such candidate. A single mum to Luca, 11, and Lottie, ten, she says: ‘I had breast implants nine years ago, when Lottie was one. Two pregnancies and breastfeeding had left my breasts looking flat and unshapely.
‘I went from a B-cup to a D-cup and looked great for a few years. But the trouble with implants is they can change with time. When I leaned forwards, the skin at the sides of my breasts looked rippled and you could see the outline of the implants. I wondered whether to have them redone.’
WHEN Emma heard about fat transfer, she didn’t take much convincing. ‘I’d found having a boob job very uncomfortable with too much downtime,’ she says. ‘I was told that if enough fat was harvested, grafts could be used elsewhere on my body, too.
‘I was conscious of having a flat bottom so we discussed transferring some tissue to the tops of my buttocks. The doctor said it would add curves and balance out my body. So I decided to go for both.
‘It was pricey at £4,500, but I liked the fact I’d be slimmer, too. It was a three-in-one treatment.’ Emma had the procedure in autumn of 2013 and says: ‘There was no dramatic change; I hadn’t wanted one. But my breasts were a much better, more natural shape and the rippling had gone.
‘The buttock fat transfer gave me a more shapely bottom that, I feel, matches my top half now. Overall, I feel much happier with my body — and more confident in my bikini.’
But not everyone supports this quick fix. Stephen Hamilton, a consultant plastic surgeon at London’s Royal Free Hospital and spokesperson for the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons, says: ‘Women should realise that the tissue now in their breasts will behave like fat tissue. So if they yo-yo diet they could quickly lose the effects they paid so much for.’
But fat-transfer techniques are not totally new — they have been widely used for breast reconstruction, for example following a mastectomy or lumpectomy for breast cancer. Dr Hamilton explains: ‘This is one of several techniques used to great success — reshaping, hiding indentations and scarring.’
Teressa Llewellyn, 44, was diagnosed with breast cancer aged 36 and underwent a double, bilateral mastectomy in September 2006.
She married Neil, 37, this September and they have two daughters, Rhianne, 12 and Kiera, aged seven.
‘I was never in any doubt that I wanted to have my breasts reconstructed as soon as possible,’ says the senior carer from Beverley, East Yorkshire. ‘I was a generous EE size before the cancer and wouldn’t feel complete without them.’
But implants weren’t an option because Teressa required chemo and radiotherapy, which would damage them. Instead, she was offered a dorsal reconstruction — where muscle is taken from the back and used to construct breasts — plus fat transfer to soften the appearance.
The reconstruction was done in 2008 and the fat transfer a year later, both by surgeon Penny McManus, at Castle Hill Hospital in Cottingham, East Yorkshire.
Teressa has since had two top-up transfers. She says: ‘My breasts are now full and soft and although they’re a C-cup rather than the double-E I had before, they look just right on me. Fat transfer was the right choice for me and I can’t recommend it highly enough.
‘Breast cancer takes away your femininity and identity. Now I feel more like me again.’