What is fat transfer?
Fat transfer, also called fat grafting, involves taking fat from one area of the body and moving it to another area of the body. This procedure is done to increase volume in specific areas. Small volume fat transfer usually involves 30 mLs or less (several tablespoons), while large volume fat transfer can add up to 1 liter (several cups). At GLOW, we offer small volume fat transfer for face and hand rejuvenation and large volume fat transfer for buttock and breast augmentation.
Who is a candidate for fat transfer?
Small volume fat transfer may be a good choice if you have lost volume in your face or hands due to aging, or if you want to enhance the contours of your face and lips. Virtually everyone has enough fat to enable small volume fat transfer. If you have areas of unwanted fat (lower stomach, inner things, flanks, etc.) available for liposuction, and want to enhance your breasts or buttocks, large volume fat transfer might be the right choice for you. Please note that not everyone has enough fat to support a large volume fat transfer procedure.
How is the fat transfer procedure performed?
Fat transfer is an office-based procedure performed using local tumescent anesthesia. You will also take some medicine by mouth that will relax you. Fat is harvested from one or more areas using gentle liposuction techniques, processed, and carefully re-injected into the new area(s). We monitor the amount of fat harvested and transferred, and use tactile and visual feedback to ensure a great result. Pre- and post-procedure photos are used (of course!) to track your progress over time. For large volumes, fat is often taken from the inner thighs, stomach area, or flanks (love handles). Fat for small volume procedures can also be taken from these areas, or just about any spot that contains enough fat. Overall, the procedure is well tolerated with the combination of local tumescent anesthesia and oral medications.
What are the advantages of fat transfer over other treatments?
Fat transfer allows us to use your own fat for contouring, eliminating the immune response that occurs when other types of implants are used. The transferred fat often appears more natural and softer than other types of implants or dermal fillers, and the fat will last longer than most dermal fillers. Also, for large volume fat transfer procedures, you will enjoy the improved, slimmer contours that follow liposuction. Finally, fat transfer can make economic sense. This is especially true in the case of facial rejuvenation, where the cost of an equal volume of dermal fillers (or the frequency of use) may be cost prohibitive.
Will I have skin dimpling?
With careful attention to detail and technique, we do everything we can to ensure that you will have a nice, smooth contour after fat is harvested. For small volume areas, the amount taken is so small that it would be unusual to create a visual defect. Large volume transfers require more fat removal from a given area, but careful monitoring during the harvest minimizes the chance of skin dimpling. When injecting, we take exacting measures to ensure smooth, pleasing, and enhanced contours.
What should I expect after the procedure?
You may be swollen, bruised and sore for a few days after the procedure. If you have some discomfort, this can usually be treated with over the counter pain medication. If large volume liposuction was performed, you will need to wear a compression garment over those areas for two weeks. You will be able to return to many of your activities within days. Most individuals return to work within a day or two following small volume fat transfer, and within a week following large volume fat transfer.
Where is the fat actually injected?
For large volume fat transfer (breasts and buttocks), one or more small (2 mm) access points are created over or near the treatment area. A small injection cannula is then used to carefully “spread” (or deposit) the fat throughout the treatment area. Small volume fat transfer to the face and hands is done with a very small cannula (less than 1 mm in diameter) and tiny access points that are essentially invisible within a day or so of treatment. While every patient is different, facial fat transfer often includes treating the tail of the brow, the temple area, the mid-face or cheek, folds and lines about the mouth, and certain parts of the chin and jawline (jowls). This will often result in a smooth, natural, and more youthful look.
What will the results be like?
Once the initial swelling subsides, the results of your fat transfer procedure will be immediately apparent: more volume where needed, smooth contours, and a more youthful appearance. You will also notice an improvement in the appearance of your skin. Fat transfer can stimulate collagen formation, leading to thicker, tighter skin that simply looks better than older, thinner skin.
How long will the results last?
Fortunately, the results will generally last much longer than those of other contouring procedures. There are many factors that determine how long fat transfer lasts. Your body naturally absorbs fat, so we may over-inject initially. It’s important to realize that success rates can vary from one person to the next. Also, if you gain a considerable amount of weight after fat grafting, it may show up in the area the fat was transferred to.
What are the risks of fat transfer?
Complications from fat grafting are rare, but can include infection, asymmetry, fatty cysts, hematoma (blood collection), fat embolism, seroma (fluid collection), and permanent discoloration from bruising. Also, it is possible that you will not be happy with the final results. Most patients will have some swelling immediately after the procedure, and a smaller subset will have some bruising. Both of these conditions are temporary, and should resolve over a few days. It is important that you understand the fat transfer procedure, its risks and benefits, and read and understand our fat transfer procedure informed consent before proceeding.
Pre Procedure Post Procedure
To see more fat transfer to the hands before and after photos visit our fat transfer gallery.