Fat often gets a bad rap. However, it can help provide a plumper, rejuvenated, youthful look. Fat transfer is a minimally invasive procedure and is one of the fastest-growing procedures in cosmetic surgery. Fat transfer serves multiple cosmetic purposes, from reconstructive surgery to creating shapelier, rounder buttocks to smoothening fine lines and wrinkles. Here is what you need to know about fat grafting.
What Is Fat Grafting?
A Fat grafting procedure is a cosmetic procedure that utilizes liposuction to harvest fat from one part of your body to augment other areas to help shape and add volume. The fat is then liquefied, purified, and re-injected to the needed areas. The process is specialized and requires great skill and expertise from a board-certified plastic surgeon. Fat grafting is also known as:
- Fat transfer
- Autologous fat transfer
- Fat injections
- Fat harvesting
Where Does the Fat Go?
The fat is taken from any readily available area, commonly from the thighs, belly, or hips to the desired size. For instance, you might have chosen to have a:
- Fat transfer to your face (face contouring)
- Fat transfer to your hips
- Fat transfer to your cheeks
- Under-eye fat transfer
- Fat transfer to your breasts (breast augmentation)
- Fat transfer to your buttocks (Brazilian butt lift)
- Fat transfer to your lips (lip augmentation)
Fat grafting introduces no chemicals to the body, unlike fillers, because the fat transferred is yours.
What Can Fat Transfer Help With?
Since the 1990s, fat grafting has improved and enhanced cosmetic appearance reliably. The procedure is often given the nickname “natural plastic surgery.” This is because it can create natural-looking results and a more youthful appearance. Fat grafting can help with the following:
- Increase the size of your buttocks
- Create higher cheekbones
- Reduce the appearance of hand wrinkles and grooves resulting from aging
- Lip augmentation to help add volume to your lips to look fuller
- Enhance the waist-hip ratio to contour your figure or create an hourglass shape
- Repair facial scars and wounds
- To increase the size and fullness of the breast
- Fill in fine lines and wrinkles on the face, such as below your eyes
- Reconstruct your breast and repair damage after breast cancer radiation treatment
It is important to note that fat grafting is not a weight loss procedure. This means that the areas where the fat is harvested will remain the same. Fat grafting removes enough fat cells to plump any desired areas of your body.
Who Is a Suitable Candidate for Fat Grafting?
Fat grafting is suitable for most people because there is a low risk of rejection since the procedure utilizes your natural fat. One of the most crucial aspects of fat transfer candidacy is having enough fat to transfer. If you are too thin, transferring fat from areas where there is no fat may be challenging. We recommend coming in for a consultation to determine whether you can benefit from fat grafting. Ideal candidates for fat grafting should be those who:
- Are in good health
- Are close to your ideal weight
- Don’t smoke or can quit smoking
- Want subtle, natural-looking results and have realistic expectations
- Are looking to improve contour singularly or in conjunction with another procedure
How Does Fat Grafting Work?
Before undergoing your fat transfer, your doctor will give you specific instructions on how to prepare. You may be asked to avoid herbal supplements, take plenty of water, stop smoking and drinking, and don’t take aspirin and ibuprofen. It would be best to arrange for someone to drive you home after the procedure.
Before the procedure, you will receive local anesthesia so that you will be awake during the procedure. The targeted areas will be numbed, and you will not feel any pain. Your surgeon may also choose to give you general anesthesia if the treatment area is large and you have additional cosmetic procedures simultaneously.
During the procedure, the doctor will make tiny incisions on the areas intended for fat harvesting. The fat is extracted from the donor area with gentle liposuction, commonly in the lower abdomen, hips, lower abdomen, upper arms, or hips. The extraction is performed using a thin liposuction cannula with tiny holes. The procedure should not be done with a laser or ultrasonic liposuction since it may destroy the fat cells and tissues. The fat is then processed, with decanting and centrifugation in a machine that separates it from your blood and other fluids. The final step involves injecting the fat in tiny droplets throughout the subcutaneous tissue of the desired area for an increase in volume. The amount of fat injected varies depending on the patients’ needs and specifics and the recipient area.
What Happens After the Procedure?
After the procedure, you may experience some side effects in the treated and donor areas, such as:
- Tenderness or soreness
These side effects are completely normal and will subside in a few days or weeks. Depending on how large the treatment area is, you may go home immediately afterward or stay at the hospital overnight. You may need additional sessions if the treatment area is large. You will be given pain medications for relief should you need them.
You will need to wear a compression garment to promote recovery and attain the best results. You may need to take a couple of weeks off work to allow for proper healing and rest. Depending on the areas treated, you may resume usual light activities in a week or less. You may exercise lightly for three weeks, and in six weeks, you can fully exercise. Healing time varies from person to person, depending on the amount of fat transferred. Talk to your surgeon about the specifics of your recovery and what to expect after the procedure.
When Will I See the Results?
You will notice the results of your fat grafting procedure immediately. As time goes by, the bruising and swelling will subside, and your new figure will begin to pop. In a few months post-op, your fat will continue to settle, and you will see further improvements in your results. The fat that does not survive the fat transfer will be reabsorbed and eliminated by your body. This accounts for approximately 40 %, while the remaining fat accounts for 60%. Your fat grafting results will last for several years, with areas that move the least such as the breasts and chin lasting longer.
What Are the Benefits of Fat Transfer?
Fat grafting offers the following benefits:
- Your fat grafting results are more natural-looking, soft, and beautiful
- It uses your own tissues rather than artificial implants
- Low chance of allergic reaction since no foreign substances such as fillers or implants are used
- It leaves minimal to no scars
- When done well, results last several years
- The procedure can be done out-patient meaning you can go home the same day
- The procedure can plump up smaller areas of the body, such as acne scars or hands
- It is minimally invasive
- Fat removal also allows for another body part to look slimmer
What Are the Risks of Fat Grafting?
Fat grafting is generally a safe procedure. But sometimes, there are possible risks, including:
- Lak of survival for most fat cells
- Fat may get stuck in a vein and go to your lung (fat embolism)
- Undesirable results
- Air leaking into the space between your lungs and chest wall (pneumothorax)
- Fluid buildup under your skin (seroma)
- Significant scarring (hypertrophic scars)
- An allergic reaction to the anesthetic
- Death of fat tissue (fat necrosis)
Should you experience any of the above, talk to your doctor immediately for treatment.
Fat Grafting in the Washington DC Area
Dr. Roba is a highly experienced and board-certified surgeon you can trust and has performed hundreds of fat grafting procedures. He tailors every treatment plan based on each patient’s needs for optimal results.
If you are interested in fat grafting, Zinnia Aesthetics and Anti-Aging, can help you feel and look your best. Contact us today for more information, or schedule an appointment online.