AKA Fat grafting Body contouring Fat injections Fat relocation Fat transplant Lipo-modelling Lipo-filling Autologous fat transfer
Fat transfer involves removing fat from one part of the body using liposuction, and re-inserting it into another part of the body to add volume to that particular area.
What areas of the body can fat be transferred to?
Fat transfer can be used for many areas of the body:
- Facial rejuvenation (cheek enhancement, tear trough filling, lip enhancement and chin augmentation, either as part of facelift surgery or as a stand-alone procedure)
- Correction of surface irregularities after liposuction
- Correction of breast deformities and asymmetries, and in breast reconstruction after partial or complete mastectomies
- Enlargement of breasts in selected patients
- Enhancement of buttocks, hips and thighs
- Enhancement of the calves and ankles
- Rejuvenation of the back of the hands
- Correction of contour deficiencies anywhere in the body
Where is the fat taken from?
The area from which to take the fat from is usually decided based on where it would be desirable to improve the body’s shape and contour. Most patients find this is the abdomen, flanks and thighs, but each patient is unique and this would be discussed during consultation. The amount of areas treated with liposuction varies from patient to patient and will usually depend on how much fat is required in the new area(s).
What happens during a fat transfer procedure?
There are three key stages during a fat transfer procedure:
Removing the fat
Fine cannulas of 3mm or less are used for the first stage of the procedure – removing the fat via liposuction (also known as harvesting the fat). It is vital that the way in which the fat is harvested and processed is with minimal trauma so as not to damage the fat cells being transferred. Damaged fat cells are likely to die and won’t take to the new area.
Preparing the fat
The second stage of the procedure involves the fat being prepared for re-insertion with the use of a special piece of equipment called a “centrifuge spinner”. The fat is spun very quickly in order to separate it from any blood or other fluids.
Reinserting the fat
The final stage of the procedure is re-inserting the fat (also known as transferring or grafting). The fat is injected into the new area with a much smaller cannula than the ones used for harvesting. The fat is deposited in tiny particles in multiple tracks and planes from various points to maximise the success rate.
Where will the incisions be made and will there be much scarring?
Some patients may find they have tiny visible scars from where the liposuction cannulas were inserted. As with all scars, this can be significantly reduced by following the post op instructions and taking care of the areas. Usually no visible scars are left from the grafting due to the smaller size of the cannula.
How long will the procedure take?
The length of the procedure will vary according to the areas being treated. Your consultant will talk to you about this during your consultation.
How long will it take to recover after a fat transfer procedure?
All of our fat transfer procedures are performed under local anaesthetic with sedation. During the procedure, patients are given a local anaesthetic with intravenous sedation and painkillers. Patients are not unconscious; they breathe for themselves meaning that patients are able to go home the same day to recover in the comfort of their own home.
As with liposuction, you will usually feel a little sore and bruised for up to two weeks following your procedure. Time off work is an individual matter, and will vary from patient to patient. Things to consider would be how physically demanding your job is and the type of environment you work in. You will need to adjust your routines depending on where the fat has been grafted to, as prolonged pressure to the area can distort the location of the transferred fat cells. For example, you will need to avoid sitting for prolonged periods for a few weeks if you have had fat transferred into the buttocks.
Our surgeons will usually recommend two weeks off work, but you may be able to return sooner if you are in a sedentary role and able to take regular rest breaks. They will also advise that you should not drive or fly for approximately three weeks following surgery.
You will be fully informed about the implications of undertaking fat transfer surgery and any possible short or long-term complications during your consultation.
Is fat transfer permanent?
As it is your own fat that is used, the successful fat transfer remains permanent, however some patients can experience a loss of some of the fat from the injected area. This can vary from patient to patient.
If a significant amount of volume is required in one area, it may be necessary to carry out the procedure in stages so that the volume is built up gradually. It is not a good idea to over-saturate the area with too much fat in the hope of achieving extra volume as this can increase the risk of complications and failure of the graft.
Do you have before and after photos?
As everyone is different, it is important to understand that outcomes can vary post-operatively for each individual patient. We do not publish before and after photos of procedures on our website, nor do we distribute them prior to the consultations. Our surgeons will show you some images during the consultation which are relevant to your individual case. Sometimes it can be difficult to manage expectations if you’ve seen images where the end result is not compatible with your shape and proportions. It is also useful for the surgeon to talk you through the transformation and why they achieved the result they did.
Our surgeons aim is to ensure that you have realistic expectations of what is achievable.