Fat grafting, also referred to as fat transfer or fat injections, is surgical process by which fat is transferred from one area of the body to another area. The goal is to improve or augment the area where the fat is injected. This technique involves extracting adipose fat by liposuction, processing the fat, and then reinjecting purified fat into the area needing improvement.
The necessary fat is obtained by a limited liposculpture through one or several 3 to 5 mm incisions. It is normally taken from the abdomen or inner thigh, The aspirated fat is processed by centrifuging, filtering, or rinsing. Pure liquid fatty tissue ready for injection is the result. The fat is then injected and distributed evenly into the needed area by injecting minute amounts in the tissues so that the injected fat is well surrounded by healthy tissue. This ensures that the transplanted fat remains in contact with the surrounding tissues that must supply it with oxygen and nutrients.
Fat grafts have increasingly captivated the attention of plastic surgeons not only due to their aesthetic capabilities, but also their regenerative properties, due to the high concentration of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) resident in the fat tissue.
Fat grafting process
The process of fat grafting involves three steps:
- extraction of the fat from the donor area with liposuction
- decanting, centrifugation, and processing of the fat
- reinjection of the purified fat into the area needing improvement
Common areas of fat grafting
A summary of common fat grafting applications and the associated volumes of fat injected is as follows:
Face (10cc – 100cc total)
- Restores youthful appearance by adding volume to hollowed out or wrinkled areas such as the area below the eye and the nasolabial folds
- Helps repair scars
- Adds volume to the cheeks to create the appearance of higher cheekbones
- Improves the texture and appearance of the skin
Breast (25cc – 400cc each breast)
- Increases the breast size by one or two cup sizes
- Corrects breast asymmetry
- Repairs radiation tissue damage and can treat breast implant capsular contractures
- Helps correct scar deformities from lumpectomy or breast reconstruction
Hips (100cc – 300cc each side)
- Adds volume to achieve a more feminine profile and better waist-hip ratio
Buttocs (200cc – 1300+cc each cheek)
- Makes buttocks appear perkier
- Augments buttocks size (aka Brazilian butt lift)
Hands and feet (5cc – 100cc per extremity)
- Reduces wrinkles and rejuvenates appearance
- Provides padding for bony feet
Asymetry, irregularities, overcorrection, and infection.
Possible side effects
Donor area: bruising, swelling, tenderness, up to 24 hours drainage of anaesthetic liquid.
Treated area: bruising, swelling (especially the lips if treated), tenderness.
Swelling usually diminishes from the third day on, and social activities can be restarted after about one week, sometimes with the help of some make-up.
Correction of deep wrinkles and folds. Correction of the treated irregularities and dents. Volume augmentation of the treated areas such as cheekbones, cheeks, and chins. Improved quality of the overlying skin can be a positive side effect. After the body absorbs a percentage of the fat (between 20% and 50%) the correction can be considered permanent.