Fat grafting, also known as fat transfer or fat injection, is a procedure which takes fat from one area of the body and transfers it to another area. The goal is to provide a fuller, plumper, more youthful shape to areas of the face, breasts, hips, butt, or other parts of the body. Fat transfer has been reliably used since the 1990’s, and more recently the technique of fat extraction by liposuction, fat purification, and reinjection have been evolving and improving. At my San Antonio plastic surgery practice, I utilize your own fat to help you achieve the contours and youthful appearance you have always wanted.
If you are interested in learning how fat grafting can help you achieve your aesthetic goals, please request a complimentary consultation or call (210) 942-6672 to schedule an appointment to learn more.
On What Parts of the Body Can You Do Fat Grafting?
There are many options for using your own fat to smooth and improve contours where volume has been lost or to add volume where it never existed in the first place. In addition to providing volume and shape, fat cells and their associated regenerative potential can improve skin quality over time.
The most common areas of the body where fat transfer is used include:
Facial fat grafting can:
- Create the appearance of higher cheekbones
- Add volume to cheeks
- Soften and fill in appearance of bags or sunken in area under the eyes
- Fill deep nasolabial folds and corners of the mouth
- Enhance volume and projection of the lips
Fat grafting to the breasts can help:
- Improve breast symmetry
- Augment breast size without an implant
- Act as an adjunct procedure to a breast lift to provide fuller cleavage
Hips and Buttocks (aka “Brazilian Butt Lift”)
Fat grafting to the hip area or buttocks can help:
- Create an hourglass contour to the waist
- Increase size of the buttocks
- Make the buttocks appear higher, tighter, and perkier
Fat grafting to the back of the hands can:
- Reduce wrinkles for a more youthful appearance
How Does a Fat Grafting Procedure Work?
The process of fat grafting involves three general steps.
- 1. Removing the fat with liposuction from where it’s not wanted.
- 2. Processing the fat.
- 3. Injecting the fat where it’s wanted.
1. Removing the Fat with Liposuction From Where It’s Not Wanted.
The first step, removing fat from an area of the body, is accomplished with liposuction. Unwanted fat is most often taken from the belly, hips, and thighs then transferred to areas of the body where it will add wanted volume.
In my San Antonio plastic surgery practice, when performing liposuction for fat transfer, I use a thin cannula with a small opening to harvest the fat cells to ensure minimal injury to the fat cells.
Liposuction techniques involving heat, laser energy, or ultrasound may destroy the fat cells and ultimately decrease the chance of a successful fat transfer, so it is important to perform liposuction carefully to ensure the greatest amount of fat cells survive the transfer.
2. Processing the Fat.
The second step, fat processing, can vary in protocol, but the goal is to remove excess fluid, dead cells, connective tissue, and any other unwanted tissues that may affect the viability of good fat cells.
3. Injecting the Fat Where It’s Wanted.
The third step of fat transfer is to inject the processed, clean fat into the body where it will add volume and improve contour.
Depending on your goals and expectations, the amount of fat removed and transferred to another part of the body will vary greatly. During your consultation, I will discuss your goals and we will determine a treatment plan that suits your needs to help you achieve your aesthetic goals.
Who Is a Good Candidate for Fat Grafting?
When I perform a physical assessment of my patients interested in a fat transfer procedure, my criteria for identifying good candidates for fat transfer include:
- You are in overall good health.
- You do not smoke or use nicotine products.
- You are at an ideal weight.
- You have enough fat in donor areas to transfer elsewhere.
- You are looking for natural-looking results and have realistic expectations.
Will I Need Multiple Fat Grafting Surgeries?
The number of procedures you need to achieve your goals will depend on your body’s fat graft retention and your aesthetic goals. Large volume fat transfers to the buttock or breasts may take multiple surgeries while small volume fat transfers to the face or hands may require just one surgery to achieve the desired results.
How Long Does a Fat Transfer Last?
Studies suggest that within one year of fat grafting, fat loss can range between 20% and 70%, depending on the area where the fat was transferred and the patient.
Factors that contribute to fat graft survival include the patient’s age, whether or not you are a smoker, your overall health status, the size of the fat lobules and overall volume of fat injected, and the technique for harvesting, processing, and reinjecting the fat.
You can expect to see the final result of a fat grafting procedure approximately 3-6 months after surgery.
Is Fat Grafting Safe? What Are the Risks of Fat Transfer Surgery?
Like most surgeries, there is some amount of risk associated with fat grafting, but I take care to ensure my patients’ safety.
Fat grafting complications depend on a variety of factors including where the fat is being harvested from, where the fat is being injected, and the volume of fat injected during the fat grafting procedure.
Risks of fat grafting include but are not limited to:
- Lumps or palpable nodules
- Loss of fat at the injection site
- Injury of vital structures
- Fat embolism (fat that enters a blood vessel then moves to the lung)
- Need for further surgery
- Complications associated with anesthesia
Fat grafting can be done while awake with local sedation, but it is more commonly performed under general anesthesia.
How Long Is Recovery After Fat Transfer?
Recovery times vary based on the areas being treated and volume of fat being transferred. Following surgery, you can expect bruising and swelling in the treatment areas. It may take several weeks to resolve. During your consultation, I will discuss the recovery process and provide an expected timeline for returning to normal activities following surgery.
Take the Next Step
If you are ready to learn how fat grafting can reshape your breasts, body, face, or hands, please request a complimentary consultation at my San Antonio plastic surgery practice or call (210) 942-6672 to schedule an appointment to meet with me. I look forward to meeting with you.