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.

Fat Transfer Procedures

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.

Fat Transfer FAQ