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Understanding the Before and After of Fat Transfer

Fat transfers are a long-lasting, safe and well-tolerated procedure that produces natural-looking results. Each year, many individuals undergo fat transfers with success and are pleasantly satisfied with their results.

What are Fat Transfers?

A fat transfer, also called fat grafting, is a procedure where the plastic surgeon makes a fat transfer from one area of your body to another. The goal of this surgical procedure is to augment or improve the location where the surgeon is injecting the fat. The procedure involves:

  • Using liposuction to extract adipose fat
  • Process the fat
  • Reinject purified fat into the improvement-needed area

Plastic surgeons have been reliably using fat transfers since the 1990’s as a way to enhance and improve the cosmetic appearance of the:

  • Hands
  • Breast
  • Buttocks
  • Face
  • Hips
  • Feet

However, today, doctors have documented the therapeutic advantages of fat transfers in the healing of scars and wounds, along with fat’s ability to repair breast tissue damage due to radiation treatment.

Prevalence of Fat Transfers

The fat transfer procedures that showed the most substantial increases in 2016 according to The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery are:

  • Breast fat transfer (up 41% with over 25,000 procedures performed)
  • Face fat transfer (up 17% with 56,093 procedures performed)
  • Buttocks fat transfer (19,019 procedures performed)

Before Fat Transfer: Common Reasons to Have Fat Transfer

The reason behind fat transfer is to fill in or augment volume-deficient spots. Commonly injected or grafted areas include:

  • Skin Depressions (after liposuction and scarring)
  • Hands
  • Buttocks and breast (for augmentation)
  • Face (including lips)

You need to have donor areas for where the surgeon can take fat from. It’s essential you don’t have any circulation issues, either from smoking or a medical condition.

Some common reasons for having fat transfer are:

1. Breast Augmentation

If you would like a modest increase in the size of your breasts, you’d be a good candidate for fat transfer of the breast, however, your breasts need to already have good skin tone and a nice shape. If you have sagging breasts, poor skin or want a substantial increase in the size of your breasts, breast augmentation with fat transfer isn’t a good option for you. The issue with only using fat to enhance the breasts lies in obtaining large fat volumes to “take.”

2. Facial Fat Transfer

For facial fat transfer, the surgeon can remove fat from your thighs, abdomen or other areas and inject it into facial creases like:

  • Smile lines
  • Laugh lines
  • Crow’s feet

The surgeon can also fill in sunken areas of your lips, face and cheeks and acne scars. They can even use grafted fat to:

  • Reduce lines between your mouth and nose
  • Minimize forehead wrinkles
  • Correct skin indentations or depressions

3. Breast Implants Plus Fat Transfer

If the surgeon needs to optimize your breast shape during breast implant surgery, fat transfer could be useful. If you’ve just had breast augmentation with implants and you have residual breast abnormalities, the surgeon can fill in the abnormalities with fat to produce an optimal shape and smooth contour.

4. Breast Augmentation With Fat Transfer

If you have breast defects after a breast cancer lumpectomy, fat transfer is an efficient technique for filling in these defects. Fat transfer is also an option following mastectomy for total breast reconstruction, but to achieve enough breast volume, this is typically a multistage process requiring sequential fat transfer procedures.

5. Hand Rejuvenation with Fat Transfer

Fat transfer into your hands is good for:

  • Plumping up wrinkled areas
  • Adding volume
  • Improving skin quality over time
  • Covering underlying tendons and vessels

6. Buttock Augmentation With Fat Transfer

Many individuals looking for more rounded, fuller buttock will choose a “Brazilian butt lift” that uses fat transfer for providing a more curvaceous buttock but with not implant use. Liposuction is often used for collecting the autologous fat the surgeon injects and sculpting the surrounding area.

If you’re in decent general health, have realistic expectations and a positive attitude, you’d likely be a great candidate for these procedures.

After Fat Transfer: What Can I Expect?

You’ll likely want to know what to expect as far as recovery and results of your fat transfer procedure.

Recovery

While some types of treatment require a short recovery period, it’s likely you’ll be able to resume your normal activity immediately following your procedure. You should expect some redness, bruising and swelling in both the recipient and donor sites. Your symptom severity will depend on the location and size of your treated area.

The only scarring you could have would be from liposuction, which the surgeon uses for removing fat from the donor site. Since liposuction incisions are small, your scars would also be small and placed in hidden areas. In some cases, however, the incisions can’t be hidden, but this depends on the location of the fat deposits on your body. Also, the degree or amount of scarring will depend on the surgeon’s skills and technique and your genetic makeup.

Most scars from liposuction fade and are hardly noticeable over time.

Results

You can expect the fat transfer areas to appear fuller and softer, providing you with a rejuvenated and refreshed appearance. You might even see an improvement in skin texture.

  • The longevity of the results and survival of the fat depend on the skills of the surgeon, how they harvested and purified the fat and where and how they injected it. Fat transfer needs a surgeon who has highly developed skills based on knowledge of the technique and experience for them to perform it successfully.
  • A microfat grafting process, while labor intensive, is the best way of ensuring a high percentage of grafted fat “takes.”
  • When performed successfully, the injected fat establishes a new supply of blood from your body and obtains it’s required nourishment for survival. Results can and are usually permanent when this occurs, but there could still be a percentage of fat that doesn’t take and you’d require touchup procedures.

For the most healthy and beautiful outcome and safety, it’s essential you follow up with your plastic surgeon for evaluation at certain times as instructed, and whenever you’re concerned with or have questions about the healing and results of your fat transfer.

Contact Dr. David Sieber for a Fat Transfer

To find out more about a fat transfer with San Francisco Cosmetic Surgeon Dr. Sieber, call us today at: 415-915-9000 or schedule a consultation here.

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