Fat Transfer Procedures

Many patients who opt for liposuction now also seek out the aesthetic benefits of fat transfer. Adipose tissue that is harvested from liposuction is frequently used to “fill” various parts of the patient’s body that lack volume.

While the tissue extracted from liposuction is quite fragile during removal, medical advances have increased the survival rate of adipose cells to 80 to 90 percent in the majority of techniques.

The most popular areas for fat harvesting are the thighs and buttocks, and the most common recipient sites include the hands, sternum, hips, biceps, triceps, face, and calves.

Advantages of Fat Transfer

A major benefit of autologous fat transfers is that the tissues used for the procedure are taken from the patient’s own body. Consequently, plastic surgeons often recommend lipografting over collagen injections, since collagen injections introduce foreign agents into the body that could potentially cause allergic reactions. Fat transfer procedures also tend to have more lasting results compared to dermal fillers. Not all extracted fat, however, can be repurposed. While ultrasound and laser-assisted liposuction are highly effective techniques for the purpose of fat removal, lasers and ultrasound waves cause irreparable damage to fat cells, leaving them unusable. As such, manual tumescent liposuction is the preferred technique to combine with fat transfer.

Lipografting / Fat Grafting

During lipografting (also known as autologous fat grafting), fat cells are typically harvested from areas of the patient’s own body that possess thick layers of fat, such as the thighs or buttocks. The extracted adipose tissue is subsequently “grafted” to areas that require refinement and contouring. Popular reception areas include the hands, sternum, hips, biceps, triceps, face, and calves. Lipografting exclusively involves the redistribution of tissue (which, in addition to adipose cells, can include stem cells and platelets from the patient) from one part of the body to another.

Most lipografting procedures do not require more than a single session; however, in a small percentage of cases, the surgeon will request a second session to help with the patient’s convalescence (for example, the mitigation of swelling) or to address aesthetic concerns (symmetry, volume, etc.). A common objective for doctors who perform lipografting is to reduce the time in between fat harvesting and injection. With more experienced physicians and techniques, fat grafting can often be limited to an hour or less (excluding the fat harvesting procedure).

Two Types of Popular Fat Grafting Procedures

The purposes of fat transfer include but are not limited to breast augmentation, buttock lift, and face fat transfer

  • Breast Augmentation: Liposuction may be a desirable breast augmentation method for individuals who prefer a natural and minimally invasive alternative to silicone breast implants. Breast augmentation procedures can accomplish an array of positive results, including an increase in fullness and suppleness, soft contouring of the breasts, improvement to asymmetrical breasts, and refinement of the intra-mammary cleft (cleavage). Patients often select fat transfer breast augmentation as a way to counteract deflated-looking breasts. The volume increase in the recipient area of the fat transfer, however, is limited to the amount of tissue the surgeon is able to extract from other areas of the body. Many women with small breasts tend to have minimal fat in the rest of the body as well. Patients hoping to achieve major augmentation to the breasts may need to consider non-autologous options, such as dermal fillers or stem cells, either in lieu of or in addition to body fat transfer. Surgeons can also use fat grafting to help reconstruct female breasts after single- or even double-mastectomies.
  • Facial Contouring: The loss in volume of soft tissue in the face is a major factor in the visual appearance of ageing. Fat grafting can help smooth out dermal regions affected by acne, scarring, injury, or past surgeries. The malar, submalar, lip, temple, chin, and jowl are all parts of the face that can benefit from this procedure. Autologous fat transfer for facial contouring is regarded as a relatively safe and inexpensive procedure.

What you should consider before deciding on a fat transfer procedure

Prospective clients should make sure to consult a board-certified surgeon before making final decisions. Liposuction and fat transfer are alternative methods for treating stubborn localizations of adiposity. For individuals wishing to acquire further information, there are a number of well-reputed medical periodicals available – examples include Dermatologic Surgery, The Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, and Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.

Ultimately, prospective clients should realize that liposuction may cause scarring, bruising, bleeding, oozing, tenderness, and saggy skin. These possible side effects may outweigh the benefits of the fat transfer. Moreover, after long periods of time, the skin has the natural tendency to reabsorb the injected fat, thereby slowly returning the body to its initial state. There have also been medical studies that find correlations between fat transfer procedures and the development of calcified lumps and/or cysts (this is particularly the case in breast augmentation procedures).

Pre-operative screenings should be arranged between practitioner and patient to discuss and attempt to lessen the risk of side effects. It is important to note that liposuction and fat transfers are intended for healthy patients with realistic expectations.

Related Links

Liposuction

Liposuction Cost

Liposuction Techniques

Tumescent Technique

Laser-Assisted Liposuction (SmartLipo)

Liposuction Risks & Complications

Liposuction Recovery

Gynecomastia

Fat Transfer

Anaesthesia & Sedation

Choosing the Right Surgeon

Fat Transfer FAQ

What is the most common obstacle in fat transfer procedures?
Fat harvesting extracts adipose tissue through liposuction. The fat is then collected with a centrifuge. Adipose tissues are quite fragile, and can sometimes be too damaged by liposuction to be successfully transferred from one area of the body to another. In order to preserve the cell and achieve optimal results, the surgeon must keep the tissue membrane intact. As part of this effort, doctors make their best attempts to minimize time in between fat harvesting and fat injection. Medical advances have increased the survival rate of adipose cells to 80-90 percent in the majority of transfer techniques.
What is the most popular technique for fat transfer?
Surgeons often opt to use the tumescent technique, a method that involves the careful transmission of adipose tissue through the use of a dilute reservoir known as a tumescent lipoaspirate; this helps surgeons preserve the fragile cells from the time they are suctioned out of their initial location to when they are transplanted into recipient zones. Moreover, tumescent liposuction permits doctors to use a local anaesthesia instead of a general anaesthesia, which is more economical and decreases the client’s recovery time.

While ultrasound and laser-assisted liposuction are highly effective techniques for the purpose of fat removal, lasers and ultrasound waves cause irreparable damage to fat cells, leaving them unusable. As such, manual tumescent liposuction is the preferred technique to combine with fat transfer.

What aesthetic benefits do fat transfer procedures offer?
Clients may be drawn to fat transfers for its wide range of aesthetic benefits. Autologous fat grafting (also called lipografting) can help smooth out dermal regions affected by acne, scarring, injury, and past surgeries. An increasingly popular application of fat grafting is to reconstruct breasts in women who have undergone single- or double-mastectomies. Additionally, autologous fat grafting can help counteract soft tissue loss in the face, identified as a key factor in the visual appearance of ageing. Surgeons do this by injecting adipose tissue from other areas of the body into “facial grooves” using a medical syringe. This enables the surgeon to correct the volume of the face and assist the client in achieving a more youthful appearance.
Is autologous fat transfer safe?
Autologous fat transfer for facial contouring is regarded as a relatively safe and inexpensive procedure.
How many sessions are needed for fat transfer procedures to be complete?
Most lipografting procedures do not require more than a single session; with more experienced physicians, the surgery can sometimes be limited to an hour or less. However, in a small percentage of cases, the surgeon will request a second session to help with the patient’s convalescence (for example, the mitigation of swelling) or to address aesthetic concerns (symmetry, volume, etc.). A common objective for doctors who perform lipografting is to reduce the time in between fat harvesting and injection. With more experienced physicians and techniques, fat grafting can often be limited to an hour or less (excluding the fat harvesting procedure).
What are the most popular areas for fat harvesting and transfer?
The most popular areas for fat harvesting are the thighs and buttocks, and the most common recipient sites include the hands, sternum, hips, biceps, triceps, face, and calves.
Why is fat transfer used for breast augmentation?
Liposuction may be a desirable breast augmentation method for individuals who prefer a natural and minimally invasive alternative to silicone breast implants. Breast augmentation procedures can accomplish an array of positive results, including an increase in fullness and suppleness, soft contouring of the breasts, improvement to asymmetrical breasts, and refinement of the intra-mammary cleft (cleavage). Patients often select fat transfer breast augmentation as a way to counteract deflated-looking breasts.
What are the limitations of fat transfer for breast augmentation?
The volume increase in the recipient area of the fat transfer is limited to the amount of tissue the surgeon is able to extract from other areas of the body. Many women with small breasts tend to have minimal fat in the rest of the body as well. Patients hoping to achieve major augmentation to the breasts may need to consider non-autologous options, such as dermal fillers or stem cells, either in lieu of or in addition to body fat transfer.
What are the advantages of autologous fat transfer?
Since adipose tissue is harvested from thicker areas of the body and injected into areas that require greater volume, autologous fat transfer is an efficient method of beautifying two separate parts of the body. Another advantage lipografting has over collagen injections is that the human body is accustomed to its own fat cells, whereas collagen is a foreign substance; therefore, in using collagen injections, the surgeon runs the risk of inducing an allergic reaction. Furthermore, autologous fat transfers statistically have longer lasting results compared to dermal fillers.
What are the potential side effects of autologous fat transfer?
While the surgical drawbacks of liposuction techniques are constantly being reduced, individuals can still incur scarring, bruising, bleeding, oozing, tenderness, and saggy skin, as well as a range of other side effects. Moreover, after long periods of time, the skin has a natural tendency to reabsorb the injected fat, thereby slowly returning the body to its initial state. There have also been medical studies that find correlations between fat transfer procedures and the development of calcified lumps and/or cysts (this is particularly the case in breast augmentation procedures). Pre-operative screenings should be arranged between the practitioner and the patient to discuss all the potential side effects and to try to mitigate them as much as possible. Ideally, doctors will call to monitor patients’ recuperation.
Where can I find reputable scientific sources on liposuction and fat transfer procedures?

For individuals who wish to acquire further information, there are a number of well – reputed medical periodicals available – examples include, Dermatologic Surgery, The Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, and Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.

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