in Midvale, UT
How does a fat transfer work in general?
These are three-step procedures at our Midvale offices with Dr. Reuben and Dr. Clayton. The process of harvesting and purifying the fat is the same no matter where it is then placed for the third step. The idea is to use the patient’s own fat to return the volume to areas of the face, hands, and breasts. These may have sunken, sagged, or otherwise lost volume due to declining collagen production and other issues involved with aging.
Here are the steps:
Your unwanted fat is harvested from the donor site. Once selected, Dr. Reuben/Dr. Clayton uses tumescent liposuction to remove the fat from the area. First, a saline solution that also contains lidocaine and epinephrine is injected into the area. This acts to constrict the fat pockets, making them easier to remove. Plus, the lidocaine acts as a local anesthetic and the epinephrine constricts blood vessels for less blood loss and bruising.
Once the fat is removed, the fat cells are separated from the blood, tissue, and other fluids. The purified fat is then ready to be injected back into the target areas on the face.
The purified fat is now injected into the target areas with a thin cannula. As Dr. Reuben/Dr. Clayton withdraws the cannula from an injection site, a line of fatty tissue cells is deposited. In larger facial areas such as the cheeks and the breasts, they may create a grid of grafted fat. Otherwise, for areas such as smile lines or the backs of the hands, the line may simply follow the crease in the skin or fill the area next to a raised tendon or blood vessel. In most cases the grafted areas are then lightly massaged to provide a natural contour.
What are the advantages of facial fat grafting?
There are advantages to having facial fat transfer at 22 Plastic Surgery compared to the use of dermal fillers or even a facelift. Obviously, if you’re not interested in surgery, a fat transfer can provide some of the same rejuvenation, albeit only in the return of volume. This isn’t to compare the results of a facelift and fat transfer, but if you’re not interested in surgery, it can be an alternative.
The real comparison is with dermal fillers, such as Juvéderm and others. First, autologous fat comes from your body so there is isn’t any chance of an allergic reaction. Dermal fillers, especially synthetic fillers, can sometimes trigger an allergic reaction.
Second, fat transfer is permanent. Although your body will absorb some of the injected fat, the majority of what is injected will take permanently. Dermal fillers have a limited duration, usually up to one year, before the body eventually absorbs the filler and its volume enhancement fades.
Plus, don’t forget that to get the fat for transfer, it has to be removed from an unwanted area, such as the thighs or lower abdomen. That’s another definite plus with fat transfer, be it for the face or anywhere else on the body.
What are the possible donor sites for harvesting the fat?
Fat cells are fat cells, so you have many options for areas you’d like to use for harvesting the fat you need to transfer. Common sites for harvesting your fat include the abdomen, the flanks (love handles), upper arms, the hips, and the thighs.
What areas of the face can be augmented with fat transfer?
Thanks to our extensive knowledge of facial anatomy, you have many options for where you may want to have fat placed on your face. These are the usual targeted locations:
- Under eye hollows
- Sunken cheeks
- Areas where fat has left the cheekbones
- Deep grooves running from the nose to the corners of the mouth (nasolabial folds)
- Under eye lines
Are there risks associated with facial fat transfer?
These procedures are really refreshingly straightforward. We simply remove the fat from areas you do not want it, and we inject it back into areas where you want fat returned. Because of that, they are very low risk. Remember, this is your own fat that is being used, so there aren’t any possible reactions. We purify the fat harvested to make it mainly just the fat cells when we inject it back into your face.
The only real risk, per se, is that not all of the transferred fat “takes.” The fat cells need to acquire a blood supply once injected across the facial areas. We over-inject the areas to allow for this, but there is some variability.
Fat Transfer to the Breasts
What are the advantages of fat transfer for breast augmentation compared to implants?
Our patients at 22 Plastic Surgery are excited at the prospect of augmenting their breasts using fat taken from their own body, rather than implanting artificial materials into their breasts. Of course, you cannot gain the larger volume changes you can with breast implants, but for moderate changes fat transfer is effective.
Here are some other advantages to using fat transfer for augmentation:
- No scarring — Breast implants need to be placed through incisions. If these are made along the breast crease, the most common location, there will be visible scarring. Fat transfers are done with a syringe and this does not leave scars.
- No danger of capsular contraction — The main complication of breast implants is capsular contracture, where scar tissue forms around the implant and constricts it. This is how the body responds when a foreign body, the implant, is placed inside. Obviously, this cannot happen with individual fat cells taken from the patient’s own body.
- No revision surgery — Breast implants have a lifespan. If you have implants placed in your 30s, you will likely need to have at least two replacement/revision surgeries to remove the old implants and to place new ones. Fat transfer is permanent, although not all of the transferred fat will “take” and you may need a second touch-up session.
- No possible rippling — Implants placed above the pectoral muscle, particularly saline implants, can develop wrinkling that is visible on the breast surface. This is not possible with fat transfer.
- Lose unwanted fat — A big advantage of fat transfer is the combination of liposuction to remove fat from an unwanted area, such as the flanks or lower abdomen.
Fat Transfer to Breast Before and After
Is breast fat transfer permanent?
Yes. The fat cells that acquire a blood supply will remain in place permanently, augmenting your breasts. A second procedure could be required initially to evenly distribute the fat that takes, but once in place the fat will remain.
How long does a fat transfer to my breasts takes?
These procedures with Dr. Reuben/Dr. Clayton take about three hours. This is because there are two procedures: liposuction and purification of the fat, and then reinjection.
Will my breasts look natural after fat transfer?
than is typical with augmentation with implants. Implants place much of their volume higher on the breasts, which delivers a somewhat showier, if you will, effect. That is exactly what many breast augmentation patients seek, but if you are looking for a more natural-looking result, the fat transfer could be a good option.
Remember, you cannot augment as much volume as with larger implants. But if you want to augment your breasts by one or two cup sizes, fat transfer can do that.