Fat Transfer 101
EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT A FAT TRANSFER
In a world filled with Instagram models, Botched episodes playing on repeat, and the Kardashians, it’s hard to ignore the plastic surgery trend that is hitting us hard.
In the last year, doctors in Australia performed over 500,000 cosmetic procedures, officially stealing America’s title for the ‘country with the most plastic surgery’.
Although liposuction has always topped the charts as one of the most requested procedures, with 30,000 procedures performed last year, we’re seeing a new trend: fat transfer.
In this article, we’re answering all your questions about fat transfer so you can be fully prepared to book an appointment with your plastic surgeon.
Let’s get started.
EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT FAT TRANSFER
This “natural” form of cosmetic surgery is taking the field by storm as the percentage of requests skyrocket. We’ve heard your questions and we’re here to answer them.
WHAT IS FAT TRANSFER?
Autologous fat transfer, also called fat grafting or fat harvesting, is a procedure done by plastic surgeons where they take fat cells from one part of the patient’s body (where it’s undesired) and insert it into another area (where they would like augmented).
Unlike fillers, which contain chemicals that aren’t natural to the human body, the fat you’re transferring is your own. Your body fat is just redeposited, hence the nickname “natural plastic surgery”.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
To harvest the fat for transfer, your doctor will first make small incisions on the area. The fat is then removed through gentle liposuction from parts of the body with excess fat pockets. This often occurs in the lower abdomen, thighs, back, hips, or upper arms.
The fat is then spun in a machine which separates it from blood and other fluids. The fat, now separated, is then inserted back into the patient in the desired area for an increase in volume.
WHERE DOES THE FAT COME FROM? WHERE CAN IT GO TO?
The three most popular fat grafting areas are the breasts, buttocks, and face.
A breast fat transfer is an alternative to implants but is only a viable option for someone looking for a small improvement in their breast size.
A buttock fat transfer, most commonly known as a Brazilian butt lift, is when fat from other parts of the body is carefully inserted into the buttocks to create a fuller, rounder look.
You can also have fat transfer applied to the face area; we call it facial contouring. This procedure can reduce the effects of ageing by reducing the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines. It will give you a similar effect to dermal fillers.
There are limits to how much fat you can inject into an area. Discuss with your plastic surgeon about your vision.
IS IT SAFE?
If you choose an experienced, qualified surgeon who’s experienced in successful fat transfer procedures, then yes, the procedure is very safe.
The harvested fat is temporarily stored in sterile canisters which prevent contamination and the potential for infection. The fat you’re having injected is your own, therefore you are at low-risk for allergies or rejection.
It’s important that your doctor inserts the new fat deposits between tissues planes so it can develop a new blood supply and receive an ample supply of oxygen and nutrients.
All too often you hear horror stories about women seeking under-qualified technicians to perform these procedures or go to a country where the medical care is cheaper and lesser quality.
Never sacrifice your health for low-budget plastic surgery. Always choose an experienced and qualified surgeon to perform your procedures.
WHAT’S THE RECOVERY TIME?
You’re going to be sore, bruised and swollen for about two to three weeks following your procedure in the areas where your doctor harvested the fat as well as the areas where they deposited it. You’ll need someone to drive you home since you’ll have likely been under anaesthesia.
You may leave the hospital with drains where your incisions are instructions to wear compression garments. This will aid in the healing process around the area where your doctor performed liposuction.
Please note that the healing times vary between patients, procedures, and the amount of fat transferred.
HOW LONG DO THE RESULTS LAST?
You’ll see the results from your procedure immediately, however, it might not be pretty at first due to the bruising and swelling.
As the swelling reduces a few weeks post-op, you’ll start to see your new figure. Over the next series of months following your procedure, your fat will settle and your results will improve further.
Your body will absorb whatever fat doesn’t survive the transfer, which is about 40%. The effects of the remaining 60% of fat transfer will last several years.
Areas that move the least (think cheeks and breasts) will keep their results the longest.
POTENTIAL COMPLICATIONS AND SIDE EFFECTS
Issues during or after a fat transfer procedure are very unlikely if you’ve chosen a qualified and experienced plastic surgery in the field. However, it is possible.
It’s possible that you can end up with uneven results or dimpling as the fat settles, blood clots, scarring of the tissue, or a fat embolism but these are rare.
The most common side effects are bruising, swelling, and soreness which is completely normal post procedure and will go away.
CHOOSE A QUALIFIED AND EXPERIENCED PLASTIC SURGEON
The single most important thing to do before getting a fat transfer procedure is to choose an experienced, professional, and highly qualified plastic surgeon that you can trust. If you’re looking for the perfect surgeon in the Sydney area, we can help.
Dr Joseph Rizk is a highly qualified and accomplished plastic & reconstructive surgeon. At our office, we put our patients first and specifically tailor our solutions to each one of our patient’s presenting medical issues, case by case.