Also known as Fat Harvesting, is a cosmetic surgery involving the movement of fat from one part of the body to another. Fat injections and lipofilling is a procedure that uses a person’s own fat to fill in irregularities and grooves, primarily in the face, around the temples, eyes, chin, and lips. This is now a well-established technique that was perfected in the early nineties.
Aesthetic indications for undergoing fat transfer / lipofilling include sunken cheeks, the disappearance of fat from the cheekbones, deep grooves running from the nose to the corners of the mouth, and in some instances of lines between the lower eyelids and the cheek. It is also one of the most common methods used for lip enhancement. In addition, lipofilling can be used to smooth out all types of irregularities such as those resulting from poorly performed liposuction or injuries.
The necessary fat is obtained by a limited liposculpture through one or several 3 to 5 mm incisions. It is normally taken from the abdomen or inner thigh. The aspirated fat is processed by centrifuging, filtering or rinsing. Pure liquid fatty tissue ready for injection is the result. The fat is then injected where needed. The fat is evenly distributed into the area by injecting minute amounts in the tissues so that the injected fat is well surrounded by healthy tissue. This ensures that the transplanted fat remains in contact with the surrounding tissues that must supply it with oxygen and nutrients.
Consisting of two completely different procedures, extraction of fat called liposuction and transfer of fat through injections. Both the donor and recipient sites are sedated by giving local anesthesia. After this, fat is harvested through injections from the sites where adipocytes are tightly packed, such as the buttocks or abdomen. However, the fat present in lateral sides of the thighs and lower abdomen is also good fat as it contains a larger concentration of adipose-derived stem cells. These stem cells promote angiogenesis and adipogenesis at the recipient site – multiple injections are used to do this. The material extracted is centrifuged, sedimented and filtered for excessive liquid and pure fat cells are injected just below the skin. This is the most difficult step of fat transfer to inject fat evenly in different layers of recipient tissue. Cannulas and syringes of different sizes are used to do this. In the case of breast augmentation, multiple fat injections are applied to the breasts. It is ensured that these fat cells are injected near a blood vessel so the cells don’t die due to a lack of nutrition. Proper nutrition is needed for the cells to survive and grow.
Types of Fat Transfer
Facial fat transfer: 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. Acne scars and sunken areas of the face, lips, and cheeks can also be filled in. Your plastic surgeon can even use grafted fat to minimize lines between your nose and mouth, correct skin depressions or indentations and minimize forehead wrinkles. (Facelift) (Lip Augmentation)
Breast augmentation: Fat transfer breast augmentation essentially uses liposuction to take fat from other parts of your body and inject it into your breasts. This is a breast augmentation option for women who are looking for a relatively small increase in breast size and would prefer natural results.
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.
Length of Stay in Destination
As an outpatient procedure, just a couple of hours are needed depending upon the amount of fat that is to be removed and transferred. You can leave the hospital on the same day or sometimes an overnight stay is advised, and in some cases, more than one session is needed. You should stay in the area for at least 10-14 days after being discharged for regular check-ups. During this period, your health and results of the procedure are monitored by your surgeon.
The recovery period is different for different areas of your body. After a buttock augmentation, you have to sleep on your stomach or keep standing for at least 4 weeks. Because sitting can dissipate the fat. The shape of the augmented area might appear irregular initially, it will get a proper contour after some time. There will be moderate swelling and bruising at both the donor and the recipient sites for 2 weeks. Your face might appear fat and plump after fat grafting but it will settle down before long. You might suffer from moderate pain for a few days. Pain killers are given to deal with this. Almost 6 months are required for the results to fully show.
Owing to the increasing success rate, fat grafting is gaining fame in recent years. Fat transfer for breast augmentation has increased by 76% in 2016 while for butt augmentation, a 26% increase has been witnessed. Possible complications can include a blood clot formation and pulmonary embolism leading to the failure of fat grafting. Infections can also be the cause of failed fat grafting.
Things to consider:
- Regular checkups after being discharged.
- Take your medicines regularly, as and when prescribed by the doctor. Avoid self-medication.
- Follow a healthy diet plan for a better recovery.
- Ensure the presence of a friend or family member with you in the early few days to help you with house chores.
- Avoid excessive movement during the early few weeks and do not sit on your butts in case of butt fat transfer because it can dissipate the fat rendering it ineffective.
- Look for the signs of blood clot formation, excessive bruising, etc. Visit your doctor immediately if you find any abnormal thing.
Alternatives to Fat Transfer Procedure
Fat grafting is an expensive technique as it consists of 2 different procedures. Following are some alternatives to it:
- Dermal fillers: these are given through injections to make your skin look plump. Sunken cheeks can be effectively corrected through this technique.
- Breast implants: for small breasts, implants are an alternative to fat grafting. A silicone implant is inserted into your breasts to increase their size.
- Breast reconstruction: cancer patients, who went through mastectomy can get their bust back by reconstructive surgery.
- Tummy tuck: This procedure tightens your abdominal muscles giving them a tighter and flattened appearance.
- Liposuction: excessive fat is removed from different parts of your body through liposuction. Your tummy looks flatter and you look smarter after this procedure.
- Cheek augmentation: in this technique, silicone implants are inserted into your cheeks to make them look bigger and plump.
All of the techniques mentioned above involve only one procedure.
Before and After Fat Transfer
Fat grafting increases the size of the site where the fat is injected. Before fat transfer, you have small and droopy breasts. Your buttocks are flat. Your tummy is fat. Your body is uneven. After lipofilling, your breasts look bigger with a rounded contour. If you have gone through a mastectomy, it gives your breasts back. Your cheeks look plump and healthy. Your belly fat is reduced. Your buttocks look lifted. It helps you distribute your body fat according to your own will. It flattens one side and increases the size of the other.
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