Fat Transfer Surgery

Beautiful skinny young woman sitting on a bed posingPatients sometimes worry about the unwanted side effects or allergic reactions that can occur with cosmetic treatments such as injectable fillers. This is why fat transfer has become popular. Because fat transfer makes use of one’s own fat in enhancing an area of the body, it eliminates the possibility of allergic reaction.

What is Fat Transfer?

Fat transfer, also known as fat grafting, is a cosmetic procedure where fat is transferred from areas where there is excess fat to areas that need more volume. Common areas where fat is harvested are the:

  • Inner thighs
  • Inner knees
  • Lower stomach.

That harvested fat is then transferred to the face, breasts, buttocks, or hands. It’s a safe cosmetic option that provides natural-looking results.

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Who Are Good Candidates For a Facial Fat Transfer?

Facial fat injections are not appropriate for everyone. Ideal candidates for the procedure are adults who seek to fight back against the unwanted signs of aging that include the following:

  • Wrinkles
  • Furrows
  • Creases
  • Smile lines
  • Marionette lines
  • Other facial depressions

What Areas Can Be Treated?

Aside from improving facial signs of aging, fat transfer can also be used to improve body contour, fill certain bodily depressions, enhance the appearance of scars, rejuvenate aging hands, even for lip enhancement. This procedure is also popular in filling irregularities in breast contour after breast reconstruction procedures or improving the appearance of breasts with implants. It can be used to enlarge small breasts in select cases.

Are fat transfers safe?

Fat transfers are considered to be natural, non-invasive procedures. There are rarely any complications, but those that do occur are the same as with any surgical procedure.

The beauty of these procedures with Dr. Price is that the patient is using his or her own fat to add volume to the targeted areas. Because the fat is coming from your body, there isn’t any risk of reactions.

Fat Transfer Breast Augmentation

Fat transfer breast augmentation is an excellent option for women looking for a relatively small increase in their breast size with more natural looking results. This technique essentially uses liposuction to provide the results you are looking for. Dr. Price will first harvest fat cells from the donor site (inner thighs, inner knees or lower stomach). Your fat cells are first processed to remove the non fat fluids before it is gently injected into your breasts. This procedure has many benefits as it not only helps to increase your breast to the desired size, but also contour your “problem areas” from the donor site.

How does fat transfer to the breasts compare to augmentation with implants?

With the recent FDA recall of a type of textured breast implants due to a potential risk of developing lymphoma, many patients are becoming more reticent about placing breast implants. For these patients, fat transfers are a great alternative. They like the idea of using their own body fat rather than manufactured implants to increase their breast size. This is how they compare:

  •     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 not possible with fat transfer.
  •     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.
  •     No revision surgery — Breast implants have a lifespan, just like any manufactured item. They will need to be replaced every 10 years or so. Fat transfer is permanent, although not all of the transferred fat will “take.”
  •     No surgical scars — Implants are inserted through a surgical incision. If the incision is made along the breast crease, the scar will be visible. Fat transfers are done with a syringe, and this does not leave scars.
  •     Lose unwanted fat — Because fat transfer utilizes liposuction to remove fat from areas such as the lower abdomen or the flanks, the breast increase is accompanied by body contouring. This does not happen with implant augmentation.
  •     Cannot make large changes — If you desire to change your breast size more dramatically, you cannot do this with fat transfer. Fat transfer can give you moderate size change, usually 1 to 2 cup sizes.
  •     Not sure of your final results — With breast implants, you know exactly how your breasts will change. With fat transfer, not all of the injected fat cells will acquire a blood supply and “take.” This may require a second procedure to even out your results.
  •     Cannot add upper volume — Some patients want to add volume to their upper breasts. This is really not possible with fat transfer.

How Long Does A Fat Transfer Take?

The length of time needed for your fat transfer procedure depends on how much fat is involved. It takes less time to perform a fat transfer to areas of the face than a breast augmentation through fat transfer. Depending on your preference and the extent of your procedure, Dr. Price will use either intravenous sedation (“twilight anesthesia”) or local anesthesia.

How much pain is involved in a fat transfer?

 These are not painful treatments. Remember, the liposuction used to harvest the fat is taken from areas such as the lower abdomen or outer thighs. Dr. Price locally anesthetizes the area before injecting the tumescent solution and subsequently the cannula to harvest the fat. The cannula used is quite small, and the incisions made for entry are small enough to not even require a suture to close.

Once the fat is purified, injecting the fat into the target areas is only marginally more painful than having dermal filler injections. This isn’t the case on the face, but on the breasts the injections are somewhat deeper. You can have some residual soreness at the injection sites, just as you do with any injection, but this is fleeting and is easily handled with over-the-counter pain medication.

What Are The Side Effects?

As with any other procedure, certain side effects may be present as you recover. The most common side effects of a fat transfer include the following:

  • Swelling and bruising may occur in the first week following fat transfer.
  • Bruising and swelling will usually dissipate during the second week.

Strenuous exercise is not recommended for two weeks after the procedure.

Is there recovery after having a fat transfer?

You’ll have some discomfort at the liposuction site, but this is more of an ache rather than sharp, acute pain. It is easily manageable with over-the-counter pain medication for most patients. This should only last a couple of days. Dr. Price will have you wear compression garments over the liposuction area for three weeks to help manage to swell and prevent any blood from collecting in the area. These also help your skin tighten down over the slimmer contours. 

The injection sites where the fat was placed will have some bruising and slight swelling. This peaks in 2-3 days after your treatment. This is more the case on facial fat transfers than on the breasts. It helps to sleep with your head elevated for at least the first week or two, if possible. In the beginning, it will seem as if too much fat has been injected. This is partly due to the swelling, but it’s also due to the fact that Dr. Price injects more fat than is needed because 75-80 percent of the fat will take while the rest is metabolized by the body.

Will any part of the fat transfer procedure cause scarring?

 The incisions Dr. Price makes for your liposuction to harvest your fat are truly minimal. As mentioned above, they are so small they can be closed with just a Steri-Strip. Any scar from such a small incision is virtually invisible.

 As for the fat injections, injections don’t create scarring.


What Our Patients Have to Say

“I have so many wonderful things to say I would take up too much space! So bottom line- Dr. Price is an excellent surgeon/doctor and his staff is awesome! They are all very professional and they care about their patients! All my million questions were answered and I felt I was well taken care of. I trust Dr. Price and that is extremely important in finding a great Dr. I have multiple friends that have also recommended Dr. Price! I am soooo happy with my results! I believe Dr. Price is the best in CT! If you want results that you will love, hands down, Dr. Price is the doctor to use!!!!!!!”

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 How Long Will My Fat Transfer Results Last?

The longevity of your results depends on the survival of the fat that was transferred. This depends in large part on the expertise of the surgeon, and Dr. Price has extensive experience with fat transfers. Plus, his overall surgical expertise and experience as a double board-certified (in both general surgery and plastic surgery) plastic surgeon ensures the best results possible. The goal is for the injected fat to establish a connection to the blood supply in the injected area. When this happens, the injected fat will endure. But some of the fat will not “take.” This is why later touchup procedures can be necessary to fill out certain areas. 

It’s estimated that around 75 to 80 percent of transferred fat acquires the necessary blood supply and successfully takes. This fat will then be in place for the duration.

Schedule a Consultation

If you would like to learn more about fat transfer, contact the office today at 203-453-6635 to schedule a consultation with Dr. Price. Our practice serves Guilford, New Haven and surrounding areas in Connecticut.