Fat grafting, or fat transfer, is a procedure that transfers fat from areas on the body in which you have excess amounts to the areas that are lacking in volume. This procedure is a rapidly evolving field within plastic surgery that can be used in several ways.
For reconstruction, fat transfer can be used to fill defects that are caused by scars or trauma. Microfat grafting can also correct defects that are present from birth. For cosmetic purposes, fat can be used to enhance lips, cheeks, buttocks, hips, as well as fill in the hollow areas and restore pleasing contours to the face.
Fat Grafting to the Face
As you age, your face may become more hollow as the facial support system weakens and begins to sag. A fat transfer can greatly improve the contours and balance of the face, while restoring the fat volume that gives a youthful look that is naturally lost with age.
While this youthful fullness of the face can also be restored with injectable fillers, fat injections may be the better option. The fat used will be your own tissue, something no other filler can accomplish – reshaping, changing and augmenting parts of the body by replacing “like with like.” There is no chance of an allergic reaction, and the injections last much longer than fillers.
If your face is showing signs of aging because of deep lines and wrinkles in the cheeks, a small amount of fat can be taken out of your abdomen and transferred into those areas to achieve a fuller and younger-looking appearance. It is important to choose a surgeon that understands facial aging and knows when to “graduate” to facial surgery.
Microfat Grafting to Other Parts of the Body
Thin lips, depressed scars and flat buttocks can also benefit from a fat transfer. Fat transfer involves liposuction of fat in areas of the body such as the abdomen, upper arms, love handles and thighs. The fat harvesting is done gently to avoid as much trauma to the fat cells as possible, this also ensures the fat stays alive and viable. No matter where in the body the fat is grafted, it requires biological support. The fat cells are then turned into clean, smooth fat and injected to the desired areas. Fat transfer results may vary.
The surgery can be performed under sedation or general anesthesia. There may be minor discomfort in the hours following surgery, but oral pain medication can help alleviate the pain. Redness, bruising and swelling may occur depending on the individual. The most obvious signs of surgery usually improve within one week.
Recovery after Fat Transfer
Recovery time varies based on the individual and is also dependent on the type of work or activities you’re returning to. For example, swelling in the face may sometimes discourage people from returning to work. Compression garments are also important in controlling swollen areas. Remember, the best outcome is also predicated upon patient compliance to post-operative instructions.