The "Skinny" on Fat Injections by: Vincent Lepore M.D.
Can a “little bit of this” translate to “a little bit of that” someplace else in your body? More and more of our patients are telling us- fat transfer sounds like the ultimate in “personal recycling.” Questions about re-purposing extra fat cells come up every day. So, let’s explore the possibilities.
- Why not take the excess fat from unwanted areas, and put it someplace that needs a little plumping? Fat injections, Free Fat Transfer, Fat Grafting, Lipo-injection – these are all names given to the techniques involved in taking fat cells from one area of the body, and inserting those cells into another area.
- HOW DOES FAT INJECTION WORK?
- The face: Hollow areas appearing with age can be plumped up with fat injection; including the cheeks, brow, lips, and eyes.Scars to the face can often be helped with an injection of fat. Care must be taken, not to over-fill facial areas. Don't go against your surgeon's advice, and ask for 'more.' You'll want to avoid a puffy look. Also, remember that transferred fat cells behave as- fat cells. If you gain weight, it may be visible in the transfer areas, most noticeably, the face.
The patient’s own fat is used. After having Liposuction of one or more areas, a good amount of material is left over. For a very small area, a syringe and local anesthesia may be used. The fat cells are harvested and processed, and then re-injected in the selected areas.
For many people, this method of taking your own 'body material' and re-injecting it, serves as a solution to their concerns about inserting man-made fillers or other surgically-implanted materials into their bodies. By using autologous fat (referring to material from your own body), the chances of allergy to the material injected, are avoided.
Although the practice of fat grafting has been around for many years, newer techniques give plastic surgeons and their patients many more options, and have made the process easier.
WHAT BODY AREAS CAN BENEFIT FROM FAT INJECTIONS?
Almost any area of the body can be treated with fat injection.Remember, you’re trying to replace lost volume.The most common treatment areas are:
- Hands:Many people are bothered by the thinning of the skin on their hands, and choose the injections for a smoother, younger appearance.
- Buttocks:A very popular option.Many patients choose this type of so-called “Brazilian Butt Lift” in conjunction with Liposuction of the thighs and abdomen.
- Breasts:The process for augmenting the breast with fat, or filling out areas affected by surgery, is more involved, but gaining in popularity.
- HOW WILL IT LOOK – AND HOW LONG WILL IT LAST?
- The results, of course, vary with the procedure, depending on the size of the areas being treated, etc. As with any cosmetic procedure, it’s important for a patient to have realistic expectations. Results of fat transfer can be very natural-looking and long-lasting. Sometimes, more than one session is needed. The transplanted fat lasts for an indeterminate period of time; with reports of anywhere from about a year, to ‘permanent’ results. Recovery time is usually minimal, perhaps a few days for most people. If you’ve had extensive Liposuction in conjunction with your fat transfer, naturally, your recovery will take a bit longer.Patients seem very pleased with the results of Fat Transfer, whether they’ve chosen to smooth, plump, or fill.