All You Need To Know About Fat Grafting Surgery [Updated 12/16/2019]
Not satisfied with the short-term effect of fillers injection or worried about the potential side effects from implants? Why not consider fat grafting?
Fat transfer or fat grafting is a surgical process by which fat is transferred from one area of the body (such as the thigh or tummy) to another area lacking in dimension. The procedure provides an alternative solution for those who wish to enhance certain body areas such as the breast and certain facial features.
The procedure is safer and has a lower chance of complications as compared to other prosthetic surgeries since the patient is using his or her own tissues. Furthermore, it is longer lasting and gives a more natural effect as compared to fillers or silicone implants.
Source: TL Plastic Surgery, Banobagi
What is the Fat Grafting procedure like?
Source: Daily Vanity
Fat grafting is an out-patient treatment and hospitalisation is not needed. Firstly, a local anesthetic will be given via injection to the site before fat is removed through liposuction through a few small incisions. Thereafter, the fat is processed by centrifuging, filtering or rinsing to filter out contaminants and impurities for the extraction of the purest, natural fat. The doctors then carefully inject the pure fatty tissue to the new site, sometimes massaging or using placement techniques in order to get the contour right. There are limits to how much fat you can inject and if you require more injections during follow-up, higher costs would be incurred.
All fat contains stem cells, which improve the survival of fat and work on rejuvenating the overlying skin. These extra stem cells are extracted from more fat which is not required for grafting. Fat and stem cells that are not used in fat grafting can be harvested and stored to further build on the already improved outcome or for future use as needed.
Areas for Fat Grafting
Fat grafting is a popular procedure not only for the middle-aged group who wish to slow down the aging process and maintain their youthful look, but also for those in their 20's-30's who naturally have a sunken face or experienced the loss of fat in the face due to dieting. To solve such problems, people can opt for fat grafting in order to increase facial volume and achieve a refreshed and brighter complexion. People who wish to have a more symmetrical face shape can also choose to go for fat grafting to have a more defined look. Below are some common body areas where fat grafting can be performed.
The forehead covers approximately 1/3 of one’s face and it greatly affects one’s profile image. If the forehead is flat or indented, it will give off a masculine and strong outlook of which some may deem as unattractive. To fix this, fat grafting could be performed to achieve a voluminous and smooth looking forehead.
Well-placed fatty areas in our cheeks and mid-face tend to give us a more youthful look. However, as we age, the production of collagen and elastin that makes up the support network beneath our skin starts to slow down. Getting older also causes the ligaments and tendons in the face to elongate and weaken, allowing fatty areas to move downwards. Of course, there are also several other reasons why people have sunken cheeks. Other reasons include sudden weight loss and long durations of smoking. Absence of fat around the cheek takes the life out of the face, and the exposed bones give the face a rather brutish look. With fat transplant, one will be able to achieve a younger and healthier look with fuller cheeks.
3. Nasolabial Fold
Nasolabial folds are the indentation lines on either side of the mouth that extends from the edge of the nose to the mouth's outer corners. These folds also tend to deepen with age. Some people may develop wrinkles next to the nasolabial folds, which may be more visible during smiling. With fat grafting, these folds can be smoothed out and facial expressions will become more natural and elegant.
A drooping eyelid is also called ptosis or blepharoptosis. In this condition, the border of the upper eyelid falls to a lower position than normal. In more severe cases, the drooping eyelid can cover all or part of the pupil and interfere with vision. Aging is the most common cause of droopy eyelids and such eyelids could give off an intense aging look. Fat grafting can help to correct ptosis and help one to achieve younger-looking eyes and smoother eyelids.
Source: TL Plastic Surgery
Fat grafting has emerged as a new breast reconstruction technique. For skinny body types, there are limits to the amount of fat that is being transplanted into the breasts to prevent excessive loss of fat. A reasonably curvy body has a lower risk of capsular contracture and is likely to yield more natural results in both the texture and shape of the breasts. Depending on the size you would like your reconstructed breast to be, you may require multiple fat grafting sessions that are done over a period of months, usually under general anaesthesia.
Bigger hips and fuller buttocks have been deemed to be attractive features in our society and more people are doing squats and focusing on their rear figure. Fat transplant into the hip and butt area can make the legs look longer and further enhance the form of the hip.
How long is the procedure and what is the downtime?
Fat grafting is a versatile procedure that can treat a number of different areas and surgical times will vary for different areas. Procedures involving only small areas may take as little as an hour, while larger transfer procedures (such as buttock augmentation) can take up to 4 hours or more.
Downtime after a fat grafting procedure is often minimal, but the precise amount of downtime and swelling also depends on the area treated. On average, patients tend to return to work after 3 or 4 days. The swelling subsides after a few weeks, and the final result can be seen within a few months. For a more precise timeline, your doctor will be able to give you a more formal evaluation during consultation.
After receiving the surgery, the patient has to take meticulous care of the donor sites of fats and body parts that have received the fat transfer. Stitches can only be removed at least a week after the surgery. Bruising and swelling from surgery is common and it would take a while before they completely disappear. It is advisable to stay away from smoking, drinking and exercising for at least 3 weeks after the surgery is performed.
How long do fat grafting results last?
Fat grafting results are permanent, but it is important for one to maintain a stable weight. Over time, fat in our body will change naturally as our bodies age. Thе ѕurvіvаl оf the fаt аnd lоngеvіtу оf thе rеѕultѕ depends on a few factors such as thе surgeon’s skills, hоw thе fаt was harvested аnd purified, and hоw аnd whеrе it was іnjесtеd. Just like any other procedure, for fat grafting tо be реrfоrmеd successfully, a surgeon with hіghlу dеvеlореd ѕkіllѕ based оn еxреrіеnсе and knowledge оf thе tесhnіquе is required. If done successfully, thе іnjесtеd fаt еѕtаblіѕhеѕ a nеw blооd ѕuррlу frоm уоur bоdу and receives thе nourishment іt nееdѕ for ѕurvіvаl. Whеn this hарреnѕ, rеѕultѕ can аnd оftеn are реrmаnеnt. Hоwеvеr, thеrе mау bе a percentage оf fаt that is reabsorbed into the body, whісh іѕ whу tоuсhuр рrосеdurеѕ are ѕоmеtіmеѕ nесеѕѕаrу. As such, the doctor may also sometimes inject more fat than is needed.
What are some possible side effects and risks?
After the procedure, it is common to have:
- significant bruising and swelling on both injected and fat origin areas
- temporary numbness
- small scars – these will eventually fade, but may not completely disappear
- loss of some of the fat from the injected area during the first few months
Fat grafting is generally a safe procedure, but it can occasionally result in:
- a collection of blood underneath the skin (haematoma)
- death of fat tissue (fat necrosis)
- a blockage in a blood vessel caused by a piece of fat (fat embolism)
- air leaking into spaces between your lungs and chest wall (pneumothorax)
- thick, obvious scars – sometimes known as hypertrophic scars
Any operation also carries a small risk of:
- excessive bleeding
- developing a blood clot in a vein
- an allergic reaction to the anaesthetic - which can be avoided through effective communication with the doctor
Although it was stated that fat grafting is a safer procedure, it does not mean that it is 100% risk-free. For safety reasons, it is important to have a healthy relationship with the doctor in charge as he or she will provide the patient with follow up information and care.
What other treatments can be combined with fat grafting?
Fat grafting to the face and/or body can easily complement other procedures, including surgical facelifts, energy-based treatments like lasers and microneedling with radiofrequency, and platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy which uses injections of a concentration of a patient's own platelets to generate collagen and to rejuvenate the skin.
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