Is Infection A Risk After Fat Injection Breast Augmentation?

Q: Dr. Eppley, I had a fat injection breast augmentation done one month ago. I took a vacation one week after surgery and I was fine. Well exactly two weeks after my procedure I noticed my left breast was bigger, swollen, tender, painful, and very warm. I thought nothing of it and my doctor said it was normal. When I questioned why my right breast didn’t feel that way he said each breast healed differently. Well the next day after my symptoms got worse and I felt dizzy and weak. I woke up soaked and noticed a yellowish pinkish discharge leaking from my left breasts incision. I ran to the ER and was admitted for 6 days. I had an abcess and required surgery for drainage. I was given a lot of antibiotics and I’m now having to clean and change dressing twice daily. This has been a total nightmare! How long will it take for my infection to go away and for pus to stop leaking? When will my incision close if I have no stitches? I’m afraid my breasts will now look deformed and different in size but im terrified to get another procedure done for correction. What caused my infection? Why only my left breast? Could too much sun exposure, drinking, and pool have caused my infection?

Fat Injections in Breast Lumpectomy Reconstruction Dr Barry Eppley Indianapolis

A: Sorry to hear of your very unfortunate complication. While using your own fat for breast augmentation is a natural material, that does not exclude it from the risk of infection. (although that risk is probably lower than with implants) Because the injected fat has no blood supply and must acquire it after being transplanted, there is a period of time after surgery when infection can develop. That is usually between 10 and 21 days after surgery, the time when you are off antibiotics and bacteria have had time to multiply and grow.

Almost all infections that occur close to surgery, regardless of the procedure, occur because some bacteria go into the wound during surgery. Why it occurred in one breast and not the other will never be known but fortunately it was just one breast.

Once you have developed an infection around injected fat, there will be fat loss or less take in that breast. Probably what you have coming out of your wound now is mostly liquified fat rather than pus which is injected fat that is breaking down due to the infection.It will probably two to three weeks until this clears up and heals.

That breast should be allowed to heal for a year, get soft to the feel, and see what the final  amount of fat take will be. I suspect there will be some breast asymmetry due to different amounts of fat take per breast. Correction of that breast asymmetry, if it occurs, will be by additional fat injections. Just because you have had this complication does not expose you a subsequent or higher risk if you have the procedure done again.

Dr. Barry Eppley

Indianapolis, Indiana