Is Fat Transfer Liposuction Safer Than Liposuction?

I want to know if getting a fat transfer liposuction from an area of the body (thighs, etc) to the face, is safer than just straight liposuction? If so, why? I am concerned that the fat transfer lipo-method has the same odds of complications of liposuction. (However you take out MUCH more fat with body sculpting, and go deeper, correct?)

Doctor Answers 11

Safety of Liposuction and Fat Grafting

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The Liposuction technique used for fat grafting is essentially the same as traditional liposuction, aside from some minor differences to ensure the fat is not damaged in the process.  The risks are the same.  However, if all you need is fat grafting to the face, often the amount of fat needed is minimal and therefore the risk of liposuction to a specific area to obtain that fat is also minimal.  In skilled hands the risk of Liposuction is very low in an case, though does tend to increase with the amount of fat removed.

Fat transfer when done without liposuction, removes less fat

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fat injections can be done as a sole procedure during which fat is removed by syringe or liposuction technique but limited to the area of the donor tissue and not done enough to see a change in contour of the donor area.  Risks are extremely minimal with tumescent liposuction and so the risks are not much greater than liposuction.

Ronald Shelton, MD
Manhattan Dermatologic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 38 reviews

Liposuction for fat transfer and liposuction for body contouring are both safe.

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Although the techniques for harvesting fat for injection and for body contour are different, each is safe. Most liposuction involves greater volume so there is that to consider.  I would be more worried about the outcome of the injection than the safety of harvesting fat.  It is very safe.  The injection, on the other hand, is unpredictable.

Risk with liposuction

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Usually the amount of fat harvested for fat transfer to the face is fairly small.  Low volume liposuction is less risky than large volume liposuction.  Of course with the fat transfer to the face, there can be complications in the face!  Any procedure has some risk.  It's always a decision based on the risk vs. the benefit.  Make sure you have frank discussion with your surgeon about your concerns. 

Lisa Lynn Sowder, M.D.

Is Liposuction for Facial Transfer safer than Standard Liposuction?

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When harvesting fat for facial contouring one is removing a relatively small amount of fat. Therefor, in comparison with larger volume liposuction there is theoretically less risk of complications. This is assuming that the operator is technically proficient of course. Complications can occur in either situation of course but due to the minimal amount of suctioning needed it would be much less likely to be associated with a severe complication. Best of luck  Dr Harrell

Fat transfer and liposuction

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Liposuction is most dangerous when performed by practitioners practicing outside of their specialty.  The risks are low in the hands of board certified plastic surgeons.  Volumes resected should be reasonable.  High volume liposuction is certainly or higher risk than removal of modest volumes.  When considering procedures, look at the "was it worth it rating" here.  I have found these ratings to be similar to those in my own practice.

43% is an F where I'm from.  Good luck!!

Jason Hess, MD
San Diego Plastic Surgeon

Complication rates of liposuction

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Complications regarding liposuction all depend on the amount of lipoaspirate(or amount of fat removed) that is taken during the procedure.  The amount of lipoaspirate used for fat transfer depends on what part of the body you are transfering the fat to.  If you goal facial rejuvination then the amount of lipoaspirate is much smaller and thus the complication rates are much less.  If your goal is fat transfer to the glutteal area then the possiblity of complications are higher because much higher amounts of fat are needed for transfer.  Anything that requires a lipoaspirate amount of greater 4000 cc (or mL) does carry a compliation rate that is higher than any with less than 4000 cc.

Ernesto Hayn, MD
West Palm Beach Plastic Surgeon

Is Fat Transfer Liposuction Safer Than Liposuction?

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In general the amount of fat harvested to do fat transfer to the face is much less than for liposuction/liposculpture for body contouring purposes.  Because of this, the physiologic challenge to the body is significantly less and therefore generally "safer" with all other factors being equal...

The risk is much less since small volume is needed

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The fat harvesting for fat grafting to the face needs small amount fat and the risk is minimal. The harvesting of the fat also should be done with much lower pressure to prevent damaging the fat.

Liposuction with or without fat transfer

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It all depends on the volume of fat removed.  Volume shifts, irregularites, and seromas should be less if less fat is removed for transfer, since generally less fat is needed.  Donald R Nunn MD Plastic Surgeon.

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.