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Best Liposuction Approach for Fat Transfer

los-angeles-lipoWith the growing trend toward using autologous fat grafts in a number of cosmetic procedures including breast augmentation and facial rejuvenation, understanding the best liposuction methods to use is essential for achieving optimum results. Here’s a closer look at some of the strategies that should be considered throughout the procedure.

Two Elements of Success

There are two primary elements to consider during the fat transfer process:

  • The most likely donor location for delivering a higher yield of viable cells
  • The liposuction approach that will not only deliver superior body sculpting during the harvesting stage, but also ensure cell integrity for optimum transfer results at the target site.

Although autologous fat transfer is generally considered a low-risk procedure, of course patient safety remains a top priority at all stages of surgery as well; to this end, proper surgical techniques are essential.

Selective Donor Site Gauging

A study conducted at Georgia Health Sciences University looked at the results of autologous fat grafting for improving facial contours, focusing on aesthetic goals like volume correction and diminishing the appearance of pronounced wrinkles. In all patients, tumescent liposuction was used to collect lipoaspirate. Unlike ultrasonic-assisted liposuction or laser lipolysis, which both destroy the fat cells prior to removal, tumescent lipo merely loosens them prior to aspiration. When gentle movements are used with an eye toward maintaining cell viability, tumescent lipo is by far the best approach to take with regards to fat transfer. Clinical evaluations reported an 88 percent post-operative satisfaction rate, including patient satisfaction ratings as well.

All adipose tissue has been identified as a source for processed lipoaspirate cells, although the concentration varies according to location. A research study from Brazil looked at the properties of adipose tissue by harvest site, comparing cell concentrations for samples from a variety of areas including the upper and lower abdomen and the inner thighs. A significantly higher concentration was measured in the lower abdomen compared to other regions of the body, as were samples from the inner thigh. With more recent clinical tests indicating that incorporating stem cells as part of fat transfer leads to a lower resorption rate, being selective about choosing the donor site is an important part of ensuring lasting results.

Minimizing Risks

The risks associated with liposuction and/or fat transfer are minimal, and largely related to inexperience on the part of the surgeon. For example, uneven results that include high areas and dimples are far more commonly seen from surgeons who are unfamiliar with the finer points of liposuction. Though rare, there are some more serious possible risks during liposuction; one of these concerns is fat embolism.

The occurrence of fat embolism is unlikely, yet constitutes an emergency trip to the hospital if present; taking the time during surgery to adapt surgical technique in order to minimize this risk is important for patient safety. There are three primary steps that surgeons can take to reduce the chances of fat embolism:

  • Layer fat carefully, and only in tiny droplets. This will prevent large deposits from inadvertent injection into a blood vessel, and will also encourage new blood vessel growth into the transplanted fat.
  • Inject fat only while withdrawing the cannula. If injection occurs during insertion, the likelihood of puncturing a blood vessel increases.
  • Use a blunt-tip cannula throughout the procedure. This makes an inadvertent puncture far less likely.

By taking these precautions and practicing good judgment when choosing the donor site, the chances of a successful, low-risk fat transfer are greatly increased.

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November 4, 2013
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