About Fat Transfer
Fat transfer, also known as fat grafting or fat injection.
A fat grafting procedure transfers fat from areas in which you have excess fat, such as the outer thighs, before injecting it into the areas you feel may be lacking in volume, such as hands, face, buttocks or breasts. This is a safe and long-lasting procedure that usually produces very natural-looking results.
The longevity of the fat transfer results will depend largely on the cosmetic surgeon’s skill, the way in which the fat was harvested, purified and then how and where it was injected. When done correctly, the injected fat will establish a new blood supply from your body and will subsequently receive the nourishment it needs in order to survive. If this happens then the results can and often will be permanent.
How is it performed?
Fat is harvested from one part of your body, washed and purified before being carefully re-injected with special needles into the areas that need augmentation. Fat grafting is generally a three-stage process:
Your surgeon and you will choose a site for fat removal and inject it with a local anesthetic. Your surgeon will then make a small incision and insert a sterile cannula connected to a syringe, with which he will remove the necessary fat.
- Purification and Transfer:
Once your surgeon has obtained enough fat from the donor area, they will prepare the fat cells for transfer to small syringes that will be used for the re-injection. Purification sometimes requires the use of a centrifuge to spin the fat or a filtration process to remove impurities.
The designated graft area will then be prepared. Your surgeon will insert a cannula or needle into the incision point at the site being augmented. They will then pass the injection needle in and out of the augmentation area several times. Each time the cannula is drawn out, a line of fatty tissue parcels is carefully deposited in your natural tissue. This process is repeated, creating a grid of fat graft, until the desired correction has been achieved.
What are my options?
Some common sites for obtaining fat include the thighs, buttocks and abdomen, love handles, arms and the hips. Your plastic surgeon will discuss several options with you, such as: Which areas will benefit from fat transfer? Which areas are best for fat removal? Or whether any other procedures are appropriate.
What will my fat transfer scars be like?
Because liposuction incisions are small the scars are also small and are placed in hidden areas. Sometimes depending on the location of fat deposits on your body the incisions cannot be hidden. The amount or degree of scarring depends on the surgeon.
Is it right for me?
The purpose of fat grafting is to augment, enhance or fill-in areas that lack volume. The most commonly grafted areas include the hands, face, breasts and buttocks. For successful fat grafting, you must have sufficient fat in donor sites and should not be suffering from circulation problems, or wider health issues.
Facial fat transfer:
If you have facial creases, such as smile lines, laugh lines and crow’s feet, then fat grafting can help alleviate these.
What result can I expect?
The areas where the fat was transferred will appear fuller and softer, giving you a refreshed and rejuvenated appearance and you might even notice your skin texture has improved. When done successfully, the injected fat will quickly establish a new blood supply from your body so that it gets the nourishment it needs for survival. Once this has happened, the results can and often are permanent.
There will be a percentage of grafted fat that does not take hold permanently which is why touch up procedures are sometimes necessary. For safety, as well as the most beautiful and healthy outcome, it’s important that you return to your cosmetic surgeon’s office at prescribed times, and whenever you have questions about your healing and results.
- Autologous fat (from your own body) as opposed to dermal fillers replaces reduce the chance of allergic reactions to foreign substances.
- Fat transfer results are natural, long lasting and safe.
- Fat transfer is a non-invasive method for achieving facial rejuvenation.
- It is time consuming to prepare fat tissue before transferring it compared to dermal fillers which are pre-packaged.
- Though longer lasting than dermal fillers, fat transfer costs more.
- For augmentation you may require multiple sessions to achieve your desired breast or buttock size.
Your surgeon will also provide detailed instructions about the normal symptoms and how to spot any signs of complications. It is important to realize that everyone takes a different amount of time to recover. Recovery from fat injections is variable, but here is some general recovery information related to facial fat injections:
Swelling and bruising during the first week are usually quite significant. The bruising will resolve by the second or third week but you will still have some swelling. Between the seventh to tenth days your injuries will improve significantly, but you may not feel ready to go out in public.
Those who can afford two weeks off or more are even better positioned to return to work. By the third week you will find that you look more like yourself, and some careful application of make-up can help in camouflage any residual signs of bruising or swelling. Once the swelling recedes you will be able to appreciate the changes but subtle swelling may persist for weeks.
Limits & Risks
This treatment is usually performed without any major problems. Risks and potential complications of surgery is a subject you should discuss during your consultation. You can significantly reduce the risk to you by carefully following the instructions of your cosmetic surgeon.
Possible complications of any type of surgery include:
- Bad or allergic reaction to anaesthesia or drugs
- Hematoma or seroma (an accumulation of blood or fluid under the skin that may require removal)
- Infections and bleeding
- loss of sensation/nerve damage
- Damage to underlying tissue structures
- Unsatisfactory results
- Blood clots