Autologous fat transfer, also called fat grafting or fat injection, is a plastic surgery procedure in which fat cells are transferred from one part of the body to another. Fat cells are mostly harvested from the areas such as the abdomen, buttocks or tights and injected into the areas which lack volume. Autologous fat grafting plays a significant role in facial rejuvenation. Traditional approaches to facial rejuvenation involve subtractive surgical techniques in which the surgeons focus on the removal of skin, muscle, or fat. Modern approaches, on the other hand, focus on filling the “empty” facial compartments, mainly through fat grafting. During fat grafting surgery, the fat is harvested by special techniques in order to preserve it before re-injection into the treated areas.
Every year, thousands of people are choosing fat transfer surgery, and most of them are satisfied with the results. In a clinical review study, it results that no major complications were reported, and the overall patient satisfaction rate was 81% over 3,073 patients at the end of an average follow-up period of 13.9 months.
Here are 5 things you should know about autologous fat transfer surgery:
1. Who Are the Candidates of Fat Grafting?
Fat grafting surgery might be a perfect way to rejuvenate and improve your aesthetic appearance. People who have creases, acne scars, sunken areas or reduced facial volume due to diseases such as hemifacial atrophy on their face can be considered as good candidates for fat grafting surgery.
Also, people who have the desire to increase the volume of some parts of their body, such as butt, breast, and lips can consider this surgery as an option. However, the patients need to have enough fat cells in their “donor” site of the body, which is the part where fat cells are harvested from.
Candidates should be in a good health condition and have realistic expectations to be considered for fat grafting. Usually, adults are eligible, but in some cases, younger patients can undergo fat transfer surgery as well.
2. There Are Many Types Of Autologous Fat Transfer Surgery
Fat transfer to the breast is one of the most popular fat transfer procedures. This procedure typically uses liposuction to remove fat from other parts of your body and transfer it into your breasts by injection. This is a good option for women who have not desired a significant increase in breast size and prefer more natural results.
This procedure can be an alternative to traditional breast augmentation surgery, but in this case, fat transfer can only increase one cup size of the bust. If you want a more prominent increase in your breast size, you may need multiple sessions.
Fat transfer to buttocks or fat transfer to hips is known as the Brazilian butt lift. In this procedure, fat cells are transferred in order to give a curvaceous shape to the buttocks. During the process, liposuction can be used to remodel the shape of the butt. The procedure can be called butt augmentation without implants, as well. After the procedure is performed, your results may change as the transferred fat can grow or shrink just as any other fat in your body, while gaining or losing weight.
Fat transfer to face is a very common way to rejuvenate the face. Because, a volume loss of the face which can be restored with facial fat grafting has become considered as an important element of the aging process, besides wrinkles and sagging.
Fat cells can be removed from your butt, abdomen or thighs and injected into some parts of the face such as under eyes or cheeks. Fat transfer to cheeks and under eyes can improve sunken areas and provide patients with a more pleasant appearance. If you want plumper lips, you also have the alternative of fat transfer to lips.
Fat transfer to hands is a very advantageous way to remove wrinkles from your hands and to make your skin look healthier. The procedure is accepted as an effective technique in rejuvenating the hand as it shows long-lasting results after 1-year follow-up.
Fat grafting can also be used to correct breast defections which can be caused by mastectomy or any other reasons.
3. Advantages and Disadvantages Of Fat Transfer
First of all, during fat transfer surgery, the surgeon uses your own fat cells. Compared to some other plastic surgery procedures such as dermal fillers or implants, the risk of allergic reactions is close zero. Also, the results of the surgery look natural since the procedure does not require implants or artificial fillers. Reviews of cases in breast reconstruction have shown that it has a relatively low complication rate and most women are satisfied with the results.
Another advantage of fat transfer is that while the recipient area is gaining a refreshed appearance, the harvested area gets rid of fatty tissue and looks well shaped. Fat grafting is related to improved skin texture. Therefore, to perform fat grafting procedure as part of another surgery such as blepharoplasty or facelift is also a very advantageous way.
Fat transfer cost is more affordable than some other facial plastic surgeries such as facelifts, which is another benefit of fat transfer surgery.
On the other hand, fat transfer surgery is not a permanent solution. Aging and losing weight can cause a decrease in volume in treated areas. It is important to maintain your weight if you take advantage of fat transfer surgery in the long run. Since fat is a bioactive substance, the fat transfer should be avoided in very young patients, in those with weight instability, and in cases of asymmetric placement.
4. There Are Some Contraindications And Risks
As every plastic surgery, fat transfer procedure includes risks and complications as well. Most commonly, patients experience swelling and bruising. The complications can be seen in both harvested and injected areas. Some other complications and risks include:
• Seroma and hematoma (accumulation of blood under the skin)
• Reaction to anesthesia
• Damages of the underlying structure
• Skin necrosis and fat necrosis (these can be caused by dead fat cells, which can’t survive during the fat transfer procedure.)
• A fat embolism caused by a fat injection mistakenly directed into a blood vessel.
• Poor and unexpected results
5. Final Results Are Visible In A Few Weeks
Usually, the results can be seen immediately after the surgery, but for some patients, it can take several weeks to see the permanent shape of the treated area. Therefore, to see clear results can take a couple of weeks. After the swelling and bruising are gone, most of the patients say that fat transfer was worth it. After the breast fat transfer injections applied, your body will absorb 20–50% of the transferred fat cells. If you want a more substantial size increase, it’s the best time to talk to your surgeon for an additional touch-up.
Following the surgeon’s instructions before and after fat transfer surgery can decrease complications and improve the results. With a successful surgeon, a little bit of patience, and time, the surgery can offer the desired appearance of your body.
This content is edited by Flymedi Medical Editors in April 2019.