A fat grafting procedure transfers fat from areas in which you have excess fat, such as the outer thighs, and injects it into areas that may be lacking in volume, such as your face, hands, breasts or buttocks. This safe, long-lasting, well-tolerated procedure produces natural-looking results. Every year, thousands of people undergo successful fat grafting and are pleased with the results.
Fat is harvested from one part of your body, washed and purified, and then carefully reinjected with specially designed needles into the areas that need augmentation. It may be necessary to repeat the fat grafting procedure several times to achieve the desired result. Fat grafting can be explained as a three-stage process: (1) harvesting (2) purification and transfer and (3) placement.
Harvesting: You and your surgeon will select a site for fat removal and will inject it with a local anesthetic. Your surgeon will then create a small incision in the area for fat removal and, using a sterile technique, insert a cannula connected to a syringe to carefully extract fat (liposuction).
Purification and transfer: Once enough fat is obtained from the donor area, your surgeon will process it to prepare the fat cells for transfer to small syringes that will be used for fat injection. Purification may require the use of a centrifuge to spin the fat or a filtration process to remove impurities.
Placement: The area designated to receive the graft will then be prepared. Your surgeon will insert a needle or cannula into the incision point of the site being augmented. The injection needle is usually passed in and out of the areas to be augmented multiple times. Each time the needle or cannula is withdrawn, a line of fatty tissue parcels is carefully deposited in natural tissue planes. This process is repeated until the desired correction has been achieved, creating a grid of grafted fat. Some surgeons recommend massaging the grafted areas to create a satisfactory contour. Others prefer to rely on the placement technique to create the appropriate contour. The surgeon may also place a dressing or bandage over the grafted area.
The goal of your aesthetic plastic surgeon and the entire staff is to help you achieve the most beautiful and natural looking results, as well as to make your surgical experience as easy and comfortable as possible.
After surgery, you and your caregiver will receive detailed instructions about your postsurgical care, including information about drains, if they have been placed, normal symptoms you will experience and any potential signs of complications. Your plastic surgeon will advise you how to care for the sites from which fat was extracted. There will occur swelling and bruising during the first couple of weeks.
Once the swelling recedes, you will be able to appreciate the changes, but subtle swelling may persist for weeks. Ask your doctor how long it will be before you can return to your normal level of activity and work following this procedure.
Fat transfer is a noninvasive method for achieving facial/hands rejuvenation, body contour, and revise scars and fill bodily depressions. Autologous fat (from your own body), as opposed to dermal fillers, replaces “like to like,” reducing the chance of allergic reactions to foreign substances and a more permanent correction. Fat transfer results are natural, long lasting and safe.
Am I a Good Candidate For Fat Transfer?
The purpose of fat grafting is to augment or fill in volume-deficient areas. Commonly grafted, or injected, areas include the hands, face (including the lips), depressions in the skin (following liposuction and scarring) and the breast and buttock (for augmentation). Of course, you must have donor sites from which fat can be taken. It is important that you do not have any circulation problems, either from a medical condition or smoking.
If you desire a modest increase in breast size, you are a good candidate for fat grafting to the breast, but your breasts should already have a nice shape and good skin tone. If you have poor skin, sagging breasts, or want a significant increase in breast size, breast augmentation with fat transfer is not for you. The problem with only using fat for breast enhancement lies in getting large volumes of fat to predictably “take.”
Breast implants plus fat grafting
If your breast shape needs optimizing during a breast implant procedure, fat grafting can be useful. If you have residual breast irregularities after undergoing breast augmentation with implants, the irregularities can be filled in with fat to produce a smooth contour and an optimal shape.
Breast reconstruction with fat grafting
If you have breast defects following lumpectomy for breast cancer, fat grafting is an effective method for filling in these defects. Fat grafting is also an option for total breast reconstruction following mastectomy; however, to achieve sufficient breast volume, this is usually a multistage process that requires at least two to four sequential fat grafting procedures.
Buttock augmentation with fat grafting
Many people who desire a fuller, more rounded buttock will opt for a “Brazilian butt lift,” which uses fat transfer to provide a more curvaceous buttock without the use of an implant. Liposuction is commonly used to both sculpt the surrounding area and collect the autologous fat to be injected.
Hand rejuvenation with fat grafting
Fat grafting into your hands is effective for adding volume, “plumping up” wrinkled areas, covering underlying vessels and tendons and improving the quality of your skin over time.
If you are in good general health, have a positive attitude and realistic expectations, you are most likely a good candidate for this procedure.