What is a fat transfer?
Fat transfer, also known as autologous (meaning from the patient’s own body) fat grafting is a procedure where fat is removed from one part of the body and placed into another. The fat may be fat that would otherwise be discarded as a byproduct of liposuction to reduce the fat in one area of the body, or it may be fat that is harvested specifically for the purpose of transferring into another body area. It is really irrelevant why the fat was removed.
The fat can be placed into many different areas of the body, most commonly the buttocks, hips and face. Small areas can be done under local anesthesia, larger areas are best done under intravenous sedation or general anesthesia.
After the fat is harvested, the excess fluid is allowed to separate from the fat, leaving a more purified collection of fat. As fat comes from the patient’s own body, allergic reactions and rejection cannot occur. Although some of the fat maybe absorbed by the body, the remaining fat is a living tissue, so it is permanent. The fat transfer procedure will work with any skin type. The degree of survival of the fat depends upon where the fat is being transferred to. The better the circulation to a given recipient site, the better chance the fat has to survive, or in other words, the greater percentage of transferred fat will remain. Muscle has the best blood supply of all tissues, so injections of fat into muscle have the greatest survival. (ie buttocks). Skin has less of a blood supply and scar tissue the least. This is why there is a lower percentage of fat survival when injected into the face.
The Fat Transplantation Procedure
During the fat transplantation procedure, fat is harvested from the donor area by inserting a cannula and suctioning out the fat, similar to liposuction. This is done under local anesthesia to minimize any potential discomfort. The harvested fat is then purified so that only the fat cells are grafted. Once the fat is ready to be placed, it is injected into the targeted area through a cannula until the desired appearance is achieved.
This procedure is performed on an outpatient basis in your doctor's office or a surgical facility. Because of the different aspects involved, treatment time can vary significantly depending on each patient's individual procedure.
Fat transfer to the buttocks and hips
Fat transfer to the buttocks and hips is performed for two reasons: to increase the size of the buttocks and hips, and to improve the contour of this area. In my experience, approximately 2/3 of the fat that I place is for improving contour, the remaining 1/3 is for increasing size. In males I do not generally transfer fat to the hips because a little "indentation" there is considered masculine, but this same contour will not look good on a woman. In females who present to me for buttock enhancement, the most common shape of the buttocks that I see is rectangular, but A-frame and inverted-V are also seen. The goal is to produce a rounder, or oval shape. Another goal of surgery is to better separate the buttocks and hips from the lower back, flank and thighs. For an example of what I am referring to, see below:
Results and Recovery
There will be some swelling and mild to moderate discomfort after the procedure, depending upon where the fat is placed and how much is transferred there. This will slowly resolve with time. You can see the results of several different fat transfer procedures in our photo gallery.
Risks of Fat Transplantation
While fat tranplantation is considered safe for most patients, there are certain risks associated with any type of procedure. In the hands of an experienced surgeon, the incidence of these risks is quite low. Some of these risks may include:
- Nerve damage
- Under or overcorrection
These risks can be minimized by choosing an experienced doctor to perform your procedure, and following his/her instructions after surgery. To learn more about the fat transplantation procedure, call us today to schedule a consultation and find out whether or not this procedure is right for you.
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