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Fat grafting or also called as fat transfer is a procedure to smooth out the contours or add shape to the parts of the face or body using the person's own fat.
It is also known as fat injection or fat transplantation. In this procedure, fat is taken from one area (typically the lower abdomen, hips, buttocks or thighs), processed and then injected into the area requiring more fullness.
Which areas of the face or body can be treated?
Several different areas of the face can be treated; augmenting the lips; reducing wrinkles and creases; filling out the cheeks, chin or under-eye area; or improving the appearance of recessed scars (such as those from acne). By adding fullness fat can give some lifting to the general facial structure, but this procedure cannot achieve the same results as a face lift. You should discuss your expectations with your surgeon.
Fat transfer is also used to reshape areas of the body, most commonly to augment/reshape the buttocks (see buttock augmentation) or to fill out the back of the hands. The use of fat to increase the size of the breasts is controversial and not generally recommended.
Do fat injections last?
The skill of the surgeon plays an essential role, as does the particular area of the body receiving the fat. When properly performed a large percentage of the injected fat cells normally survive. Some of the fat cells are “lost” i.e. reabsorbed by the body. For this reason it is common to “overfill” initially by injecting a little bit too much fat. In some cases top-up injections may still be required. Once the fat cells have survived, they will behave like fat anywhere, for example they will enlarge or shrink if weight is gained or lost. Fat injections will not stop the aging process.
Are there alternatives to using one’s own fat?
There are other injectable fillers available, which in certain instances provide an appropriate alternative (see Dermal Fillers). Examples include collagen injections and hyaluronic fillers. The procedure is less involved because the filler material does not have to be harvested from your own body first. Fat injections can be used in larger volumes and results are generally more permanent.
Length of Procedure:
1 - 2 hours
Local with/without sedation anaesthesia
Overall, this is a safe procedure and complications are rare. However, like all cosmetic procedures there are risks involved. There are general risks associated with surgery as well as risks specific to this procedure. Your surgeon will discuss these with you during your consultation. Complications include bruising, swelling, lumpiness and skin discoloration. Infection and skin loss are also possible, although extremely rare. The precise amount of fat needed is difficult to judge – the skill of the surgeon is very important.
Time off work for 1-3 days
Getting back to normal/sport within 0-2 weeks (recovery from bruising/swelling: up to 10 days or longer for swelling)
The fat is withdrawn from the donor areas, either using a syringe, or through techniques similar to those used during liposuction. The fat is then purified and injected back into the required areas. Sutures (stitches) may or may not be required. The length of the procedure, type of anesthesia and recovery varies depending on the area to be treated.