What is Fat Grafting (Fat Transfer)?

Fat grafting or fat transfer is a procedure used to remove fat from one area of the body and place it in another area to increase volume, change contour, fill in a defect or depression, or restore shape. Fat grafting can be performed in breast to adjust volume, and to improve contour in patients that have undergone breast reconstruction, breast radiation, or breast implant removal.

How is fat grafting done?

Fat is harvested using a small cannula under low pressure with a syringe type device. This is not the same as liposuction and uses a more gentle and precise technique. The fat is then placed in a centrifuge or alternate device to separate unwanted fluid and cells from the fat to be used in grafting. Donor sites often include the abdomen, hips, and thighs. The area in need of fat grafting is carefully defined before surgery. The processed fat is then injected in small amounts, often 1cc at a time and the fat is gently layered into place.

Does fat grafting work?

Fat grafting is most successful if the quality of the fat harvest is good, if the technique of harvesting and injection is gentle, and if the site to be grafted has good blood supply. Fat transfer volumes remain the most consistent long term when fat achieves a good supply and remains alive. Not all fat transferred will remain and fat that does not survive in small amounts may be absorbed. If too much fat is injected at a single procedure for the blood supply of the area, fat necrosis (cell death) can occur. This can often result in hard lumps and may need additional treatment for removal and re-grafting.

Who is a good candidate for fat transfer?

Patients that are generally healthy, non-smokers, with stable weight, and no active infections are best for fat grafting surgery.

Will the fat last and for how long?

Generally the volume of fat transfer will stabilize at 3 to 6 months. Gradual volume loss can occur in some patients and volumes are subject to change with general weight gain, weight loss, aging and from other factors.

Will I need more than one treatment?

It is very common to need two or more treatments when fat grafting is done to restore volume, repair defects, or for reconstruction. The larger the defect, the more likely the need for additional fat transfer treatments. The first treatment allows the site to become more vascular and often allows for significantly more volume to be placed at the second injection. Additional injections of fat may be performed in 4-6 months depending on the tissue characteristics.

Can I have a Liposuction operation at the same time as fat grafting?

Liposuction is designed to optimally remove fat from an area like the abdomen, or from a bilateral area like the lateral thighs or hips. Completing an area of liposuction at the time of fat grafting will depend on the amount of fat needed at the time of surgery, and possibility of need of more fat in the future and can be discussed during your consultation.

What can you do to improve the survival of fat cells transferred?

Patients should carefully follow instructions regarding restriction of activities including exercise following surgery, avoid tobacco/exposure, and maintain weight and a nutritional diet during the healing process.

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Dr. Rudderman’s unique, integrated approach to plastic surgery employs only safe, effective, predictable surgical techniques that are driven by uncompromising respect for the natural condition of the human form. He understands that the body changes with time – as do desires. His primary goal is to deliver the best possible plastic surgery … specifically matched to each patient…in a safe environment with ultimate respect for every single individual…their concerns and goals. LEARN MORE »

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Dr. Randy Rudderman


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