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Can Liposuction Alone Make Breasts Grow? Staff Report

CONSUMER BRIEF: Dermatologic surgeon Eric Finzi, M.D., Ph.D., studied women who reported growing larger breasts after having liposuction on their flanks, waist and stomach. His findings? Forty-three percent of women who fit a certain profile naturally gained one to two cup sizes in the weeks and months following liposuction with no other procedures done to the breasts.

In Serendip, a mythical nation in 17th-century English literature, three traveling princes were always finding things, good things, for which they were not searching.

Thus, when scientists today stumble across a happy finding, they say it was "serendipitous."

And so it went with a scientific finding that liposuction alone can make some women's breasts grow larger.

Liposuction Surgery

Eric Finzi, M.D., Ph.D., a dermatologic and plastic surgeon in Chevy Chase, Maryland, perked up his ears when many of his liposuction patients returning for a follow up visit, mentioned they had to buy new bras. Essentially, many had the same story:

  • After liposuction, their breasts had naturally grown one to two cup sizes
  • The enhancement was noticeable enough that most the subjects' friends asked if they had a breast implant procedure

And if you think all that is just too good to be true, here is a little more icing on the cake: some of the subjects with larger breasts lost weight while others remained stable. That was an important observation because the breast enlargements were not due to weight gained all over their bodies. What could be next for that lucky group? Lotto payouts for life? A lifetime pass on taxes from the IRS?

Lipo Results

Intrigued, Dr. Finzi studied 95 surgery charts assembled over the years and found that 43 percent of female patients undergoing one or more liposuction procedure had also increased their breast size.

One such lucky patient, D.B. (who asked for anonymity,) a 47-year-old business owner and mother of two from Lexington Park, Maryland, had liposuction on her stomach and noticed nine months later that her breasts were larger.

"I was an A cup when I went in for lipo and then noticed I had to buy B cup bras although I did not gain weight anywhere else," D.B. told "About a year out from my liposuction, I am now a C cup and my breasts are what you would call 'perky.' Both my husband and I are thoroughly delighted."

Liposuction Before Photo Liposuction After Photo

Dr. Finzi’s patient D.B., 47, shows the increase in her breast size in the right picture nine months after having liposuction. The picture on the left was taken before she underwent liposuction.
(Photos, courtesy of Eric Finzi, Ph.D., M.D.)

D.B., who stands five-foot-six and weighs 118, says she is particularly thrilled because, as a thin woman, she "never had much to put in a bra, then unexpectedly gained an enhancement that would ordinarily cost thousands of dollars." Additionally, she says, her husband does not like the idea of breast implants and considers them "fake" so augmentation with implants was never a possibility.

Liposuction Procedure

To do the study, Dr. Finzi randomly chose the surgical charts of 60 other patients who had traditional tumescent liposuction of one or more body areas during the previous three years. He then compared those women against another 35 randomly selected charts belonging to similar women who had any other cosmetic procedure except liposuction. The study was printed in the September 2003 issue of Dermatologic Surgery, the official publication of the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery (ASDA.)

When Dr. Finzi crunched the numbers and arrived at the statistics, he found that women who had fat removed from their love handles, waists and abdomens were most likely to grow larger bosoms. Further investigation revealed the study group gained most of the weight in the upper half of the breast, a configuration that resulted in better projection (how far out in front the breasts extend) as well as a more shapely breast. The study also revealed if the patient was 15 to 20 pounds overweight at the time of surgery, she was far more likely to experience the unexpected, but welcome, breast growth.

"It may be due to hormonal changes," Dr. Finzi says. "We all may hate fat but it is nonetheless a dynamic body tissue that secrets hormones. And different types of fat behave differently."

But the $64,000 question is: Has Dr. Finzi stumbled onto the first step required for natural breast enlargement, one in which no implant at all is required?

It's an important question because, no matter how skilled or careful the surgeon or wonderful the implants, there is always a small chance a breast implant patient can suffer complications like:

  • Capsular contracture
  • Rupture of the implant
  • Changes in breast sensations, calcifications and scarring

Additionally, many plastic surgery experts insist all implants will be removed or exchanged sometime during the woman's life. To date, implant surgery has been the only proven effective technique for breast enlargement. And the market is huge -- somewhere between two and three million women in the United States have undergone breast implant surgery. According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), about 383,000 women in 2006 had the procedure.

Liposuction Recovery

"At this point, I can't guarantee a woman's breasts will grow after liposuction," says Dr. Finzi. "However, if the patient fits within the parameters of the study group, that is, has fat taken from certain areas and is 15 to 20 pounds overweight, I can say there is a very good likelihood she may well wind up with augmented breasts."

Exactly why and how certain liposuction cases result in larger breasts is something that needs more study, says Dr. Finzi who adds that a woman's body type may also have something to do with the effect.

"My sister looks at my flat stomach and my increased breast size and just will not believe I did not have breast implants," says D.B.

But the study may have overlooked a major question about the topic.

For, as humorist Dave Berry has observed, many scientists now believe the primary biological function of breasts is to make males stupid.


Dr. Finzi is the medical director and president of Chevy Chase Cosmetic Center in Chevy Chase, Maryland, and Dermatology and Cosmetic Surgery Associates in Greenbelt, Maryland. A board-certified dermasurgeon, Dr. Finzi also holds a Ph.D. in biochemistry and is an accomplished artist and sculptor. He has also authored over 20 research publications and is a former faculty member of the dermatology department at Johns Hopkins Medical Center.

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