What is fat grafting?
A fat grafting procedure transfers fat from areas in which you have excess fat, such as the abdomen, flanks, back, and thighs, and injects it into areas that may be lacking in volume, such as your face, hands, breasts or buttocks i.e. BBL. This safe, long-lasting, well-tolerated procedure produces natural-looking results. Every year, thousands of people undergo successful fat grafting and are pleased with the results.
Am I a good candidate for a fat grafting or transfer?
A good candidate for fat grafting incudes:
- Must have have enough body fat to harvest for the transfer.
- Have facial areas that appear creased or sunken in.
- Desire more permanent correction than is provided by temporary dermal fillers.
- Wish to improve your body contour, enlarge the breasts, enlarge the buttocks i.e. Brazilian Butt Lift BBL, revise scars, fill bodily depressions and rejuvenate your hands and face.
- Use in breast reconstruction, to fill in contour irregularities or hide obvious signs of breast implants.
What are the advantages of fat grafting over dermal fillers?
The main advantages of fat grafting include:
- Natural-looking results: Since fat grafting uses the patient’s own fat cells, the results tend to look more natural compared to other types of implants or fillers.
- Versatile procedure: Fat grafting can be used to enhance or restore volume to a variety of areas, including the face, breasts, buttocks, and hands.
- Long-lasting results: Unlike some fillers, fat grafting can provide long-lasting results. The transferred fat cells can remain in the treated area for several years, and in some cases, the results can be permanent.
- Minimally invasive: Fat grafting is a minimally invasive procedure that typically involves only small incisions. This can mean less scarring and a shorter recovery time compared to more invasive surgeries.
- Dual benefit: In addition to enhancing the volume and shape of the treated area, fat grafting can also remove unwanted fat from other areas of the body.
- Reduced risk of allergic reactions: Since fat grafting uses the patient’s own cells, there is a reduced risk of allergic reactions compared to other types of implants or fillers.
What are the disadvantages of fat grafting?
The disadvantages of fat grafting include:
- Limited amount of fat available: In order to perform fat grafting, there needs to be a sufficient amount of fat available for harvesting. Patients who are very thin or have low body fat may not have enough fat to transfer.
- Variable reabsorption: It is difficult to predict how much of the transferred fat will survive in the new location. Some of the transferred fat may be reabsorbed by the body, leading to a reduction in the volume and effect of the procedure.
- Multiple procedures may be necessary: Depending on the desired outcome, multiple fat grafting procedures may be necessary. This can increase the overall cost and recovery time of the procedure.
- Possible asymmetry: It can be difficult to achieve perfect symmetry when transferring fat, and slight asymmetries may be noticeable in some cases.
- Infection and other complications: As with any surgical procedure, there is a risk of infection, bleeding, and other complications associated with fat grafting.
- Post-operative swelling and discomfort: Patients may experience post-operative swelling and discomfort in the treated area, which can take several weeks to subside.
What areas can undergo fat grafting?
The purpose of fat grafting is to augment or fill in volume-deficient areas. Commonly grafted, or injected, areas include the hands, face (including the lips), depressions in the skin (following liposuction and scarring) and the breast and buttock (for augmentation). Of course, you must have donor sites from which fat can be taken. It is important that you do not have any circulation problems, either from a medical condition or smoking.
- Facial fat grating: If you have facial creases, such as laugh lines, smile lines, and crow’s-feet, fat can be removed from your abdomen, thighs, or other areas and be injected into your face. Fat grafting under eyes to improve the tear troughs and make one appear less tired and more youthful can be perforemd. Acne scars and sunken areas of the face, lips, and cheeks can also be filled in. Your plastic surgeon can even use fat grafting face to minimize lines between your nose and mouth, correct skin depressions or indentations and minimize forehead wrinkles.
- Breast augmentation: If you desire a modest increase in breast size, you are a good candidate for fat grafting breast. However, your breasts should already have a nice shape and good skin tone. If you have poor skin, sagging breasts, or want a significant increase in breast size, breast augmentation with fat transfer is not for you. The problem a fat grafting breast augmentation lies in getting large volumes of fat to predictably “take.”
- Breast implants plus fat grafting: If your breast shape needs optimizing during a breast implant procedure, fat grafting can be useful. If you have residual breast irregularities after undergoing breast augmentation with implants, the irregularities can be filled in with fat to produce a smooth contour and an optimal shape.
- Breast reconstruction with fat grafting: If you have breast defects following lumpectomy for breast cancer, fat grafting is an effective method for filling in these defects. Fat grafting is also an option for total breast reconstruction following mastectomy; however, to achieve sufficient breast volume, this is usually a multistage process that requires at least two to four sequential fat grafting procedures.
- Buttock augmentation with fat grafting: Many people who desire a fuller, more rounded buttock will opt for a “Brazilian butt lift,” which uses fat transfer to provide a more curvaceous buttock without the use of an implant. Liposuction is commonly used to both sculpt the surrounding area and collect the autologous fat to be injected.
- Hand rejuvenation with fat grafting: Fat grafting into your hands is effective for adding volume, “plumping up” wrinkled areas, covering underlying vessels and tendons and improving the quality of your skin over time.
If you are in good general health, have a positive attitude and realistic expectations, you are most likely a good candidate for this procedure.
How is a fat grafting performed?
Fat grafting, also known as fat transfer, typically involves the following steps:
- Harvesting the fat: The first step of the procedure involves harvesting fat from another area of the patient’s body, such as the abdomen, hips, or thighs. This is done using a small cannula (a thin, hollow tube) and a liposuction technique.
- Processing the fat: The harvested fat is then processed to remove any impurities and excess fluids, leaving only pure fat cells.
- Preparing the injection site: The area where the fat will be injected is prepared by cleaning and numbing the area.
- Injecting the fat: The processed fat is then carefully injected into the target area using a small needle. The surgeon will typically inject small amounts of fat at a time, carefully monitoring the results to achieve the desired effect.
How do I prepare for a fat transfer procedure?
If you are considering fat grafting, it is important to properly prepare for the procedure in order to achieve the best possible results and reduce the risk of complications. Here are some general tips to help you prepare for your fat grafting procedure:
- Choose a qualified plastic surgeon: It is important to choose a board-certified plastic surgeon like Dr. DeConti with experience in fat grafting procedures. Research potential surgeons, read reviews, and schedule a consultation to discuss your goals and expectations.
- Stop smoking: If you smoke, it is important to quit at least six weeks before the procedure to reduce the risk of complications and promote healing.
- Avoid certain medications and supplements: Certain medications and supplements, such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and vitamin E, can increase the risk of bleeding and should be avoided in the weeks leading up to the procedure.
- Stay hydrated: It is important to stay properly hydrated before and after the procedure to promote healing and reduce the risk of complications.
- Arrange for transportation: Since you may be sedated or under anesthesia during the procedure, it is important to arrange for transportation to and from the surgical facility.
- Follow pre-operative instructions: Dr. DeConti will provide specific instructions to follow before the procedure, such as avoiding food and drink for a certain period of time before the procedure. It is important to follow these instructions closely to ensure a successful outcome.
- Plan for post-operative care: You will need to arrange for time off work or other responsibilities to allow for proper recovery. It is also important to follow post-operative instructions closely, such as avoiding certain activities and wearing compression garments as directed.
By properly preparing for your fat grafting procedure and following your plastic surgeon’s instructions, you can help ensure a successful outcome and minimize the risk of complications.
What can I expect and need to do after my fat grafting procedure?
After your fat grafting procedure, it is important to follow Dr. DeConti’s post-operative instructions closely in order to promote healing and achieve the best possible results. Here are some general guidelines for what to expect and what you may need to do after fat grafting:
- Recovery time: Depending on the extent of the procedure and the areas treated, you may need to take a few days or up to several weeks off work or other activities. It is important to avoid strenuous exercise or activities that could put strain on the treated area during the initial recovery period.
- Compression garments: Dr. DeConti may recommend that you wear a compression garment or other type of support garment to help reduce swelling and promote healing in the treated area.
- Pain management: You may experience some discomfort or pain after the procedure, which can typically be managed with over-the-counter pain medication or prescription pain medication if necessary.
- Swelling and bruising: Swelling and bruising are common after fat grafting and can take several weeks to subside. Applying cold compresses and keeping the treated area elevated can help reduce swelling and bruising.
- Follow-up appointments: Dr. DeConti will schedule follow-up appointments to monitor your progress and ensure proper healing. It is important to attend all scheduled appointments and to contact your surgeon if you have any concerns or questions during the recovery period.
- Maintain a healthy lifestyle: In order to maintain the results of your fat grafting procedure, it is important to maintain a healthy lifestyle, including regular exercise and a balanced diet.
How will I look after a fat grafting or fat transfer?
After a fat transfer or grafting procedure, it is normal to experience some swelling, bruising, and discomfort in the treated area. The extent of these symptoms can vary depending on the extent of the procedure and the areas treated, but they generally subside within a few days to a few weeks. Here are some general guidelines for what you can expect after fat transfer or grafting:
- Swelling: Swelling is common after fat transfer or grafting, and can cause the treated area to look larger than normal. Swelling usually peaks a few days after the procedure and gradually subsides over the following weeks.
- Bruising: Bruising can also occur after fat transfer or grafting, and can cause the treated area to appear discolored. Bruising typically subsides within two weeks after the procedure.
- Discomfort: You may experience some discomfort or pain in the treated area after the procedure. This can typically be managed with over-the-counter pain medication or prescription pain medication if necessary.
- Bandages and compression garments: Your plastic surgeon may apply bandages and/or a compression garment to the treated area to help reduce swelling and promote healing.
- Return to normal activities: You may be able to return to work or normal activities within a few days to a few weeks after the procedure, depending on the extent of the procedure and the areas treated.
How long does fat grafting last?
The longevity of fat grafting can vary depending on several factors, such as the individual’s age, lifestyle, and the technique used during the procedure. In general, fat grafting can last several years or even be permanent in some cases, but some of the transferred fat may be reabsorbed by the body over time.
The survival of the transferred fat cells depends on how well they are harvested, processed, and transferred to the recipient site. The plastic surgeon’s skill and experience, as well as the use of advanced techniques such as microfat grafting, can also influence the longevity of the results.
In addition, maintaining a healthy lifestyle and stable weight can help prolong the results of fat grafting. Fluctuations in weight and aging can affect the appearance of the treated area over time, and additional fat grafting procedures may be necessary to maintain the desired results.
Overall, the longevity of fat grafting varies from person to person and depends on several factors.
What does “fat grafting take” mean?
“Fat grafting take” refers to the percentage of transferred fat that survives and remains in the recipient site after the procedure. Not all of the transferred fat cells will survive, as some may not receive sufficient blood supply or may undergo cell death during the healing process. The percentage of fat that “takes” varies depending on several factors, such as the patient’s age, the technique used during the procedure, and the quality of the harvested fat.
How long does it take for fat grafting to take?
The process of “fat grafting take,” or the survival of transferred fat cells, can take several weeks to several months to become apparent. After the fat grafting procedure, a portion of the transferred fat cells will not survive due to factors such as poor blood supply, mechanical stress, or inflammation.
During the initial healing period, the transferred fat cells will be revascularized and integrated into the surrounding tissues. This process typically takes around two to three weeks, during which time the treated area may be swollen, bruised, or tender. Patients may be advised to avoid strenuous activity during this time to allow for proper healing.
Over the next several months, the remaining fat cells will continue to integrate and survive, resulting in improved contours and volume in the treated area. The final result of the fat grafting procedure may not be fully apparent until several months after the procedure, depending on the patient’s individual healing process.
What are the risks of fat grafting?
Like any surgical procedure, fat grafting does carry some risks and potential complications. Here are some of the possible risks and complications associated with fat grafting:
- Infection: All surgical procedures carry a risk of infection, which can occur in the treated area after fat grafting. This risk can be minimized by using sterile techniques during the procedure and by following proper wound care instructions during the recovery period.
- Bleeding and hematoma: Fat grafting can cause bleeding and hematoma (a collection of blood under the skin) in the treated area. This risk can be minimized by avoiding blood-thinning medications before the procedure and following your plastic surgeon’s post-operative instructions closely.
- Swelling and bruising: Swelling and bruising are common after fat grafting, and can take several weeks to subside. Applying cold compresses and keeping the treated area elevated can help reduce swelling and bruising.
- Irregularities in contour or texture: Fat grafting can sometimes result in irregularities in contour or texture in the treated area. This can be due to uneven distribution of the transferred fat cells, and may require additional procedures to correct.
- Fat necrosis: In rare cases, fat cells in the treated area may die off (fat necrosis), leading to hard or lumpy areas under the skin.
- Asymmetry: There is a risk of asymmetry in the treated area, which may require additional procedures to correct.
- Complications associated with liposuction: If liposuction is used to harvest the fat cells for transfer, there is a risk of complications associated with liposuction, such as fluid accumulation, nerve damage, and skin irregularities.
Overall, fat grafting is a safe and effective procedure with a low risk of complications when performed by a qualified and experienced plastic surgeon.
How much does fat grafting cost?
The cost of fat grafting varies depending on several factors, such as the extent of the procedure, the area of the body being treated, and the geographic location of the practice. Generally, fat grafting procedures are more expensive than other non-surgical options, such as dermal fillers, but can provide more long-lasting results.
In the United States, the average cost of fat grafting can range from $3,o00 to $10,000 or more, depending on the factors mentioned above. However, it is important to note that the cost of fat grafting can vary widely from patient to patient depending on what is needed.
It is important to remember that cost should not be the only consideration when choosing a plastic surgeon for fat grafting. It is essential to choose a board-certified plastic surgeon with experience performing fat grafting procedures, who prioritizes your safety and care, like Dr. DeConti, when making your decision.
American Society of Plastic Surgeons: Fat Grafting