What Percentage of the Fat Survives During a Transfer?

Doctor Answers 6

Fat Grafting How much fat survives during a fat transfer?

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The survival of grafted fat is variable from procedure to procedure.  As it is essentially impossible to quantify the survival of grafted fat as a percentage of the total amount of fat that was transferred, I instead tend to look at it in terms of what percentage of the overall improvement (that is seen early postoperatively) is still persistent at four months postop.  If it's still there at four months, then it has a blood supply and will persist long-term.

In my experience, most patients show a 50-80% persistence of the early improvement at four months.  If less than 50% of the improvement has persisted, most patients need and want a secondary fat grafting procedure.  We perform such fat grafting 'touchup' procedures at a significantly reduced cost compared to the initial procedure, and patients are advised of the potential expense before they have their initial surgery.  Once in a great while we have a patient who experiences limited fat survival and who has very little long-term change in their appearance following their fat grafting procedure, and for such patients we offer a secondary procedure at no charge.

Another way to look at this issue is to ask 'what percentage of patients require a secondary fat grafting procedure in order to get the result they are looking for?'.  Because my approach to fat grafting is conservative, I have a fairly high number of patients who return for a second procedure.  I would much prefer to have a patient like what they get and return for more, than to have a patient who is unhappy because they feel that their fat grafting was overdone. 

If you look at reviews posted by fat grafting patients who have had a very negative experience with the procedure, you find an abundance of patients that feel that an excessive amount of fat was placed in their face.  They're not just unhappy - they feel disfigured.  So a conservative approach is absolutely critical to success with facial rejuvenation by means of structural fat grafting.  To be worth a patient's time and money, fat grafting needs to look natural, and not like a trip to the operating room.

Raleigh-Durham Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 121 reviews

30 percent of the fat survives in fat grafting

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There are several studies that have attempted to address this issue.  The more convincing studies show about 30 percent of the fat survives in the midface.  In my experience, there is great variability in the results with some patients having a much higher percentabe of survival while others have a much lower percentage.  One can always add more fat and most patients do not mind donating it from their abdomen for a good cause!

Kevin Ende, MD
Manhattan Facial Plastic Surgeon

Fat transfer

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Fat transfer or lipoaugmentation is technique and surgeon-dependent.  That means some techniques will do better than others.  Placing the fat as tiny droplets within the recipient site and placing the fat diffusley will defiitely help with the survival of the fat cellls. Also, the way that the fat is liposuctioned, the processing, and the injections also influence the survival of the fat cells.  You should go to someone who has experience with fat transfer with an extensive gallery.

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Fat Transfer

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Fat transfer is technique dependant.

Following appropriate technique a large percentage will survive. Plus a large portion of stem cells are available in the fat that could be contributing to the long term good results

Samir Shureih, MD
Baltimore Plastic Surgeon

Survival of fat transfer, transplant, injection, or grafting

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Excellent question with no definitive answer. Depending on the study your review fat grafts will survive anywhere from an average of 30-50%. There are also schools of thought that believe few fat cells survive and the success is attributable to stem cells that are transferred along with the fat cells. Survival can depend on the age and health of the patient, donor site, method of harvest/processing/transfer, as well as post-oeprative care.

Otto Joseph Placik, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 86 reviews

Percentage of fat cells living in graft

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When a fat injection is done, the fat cells that are transferred to a new area either die or survive. The percent of living, or viable, cells varies in each treatment, but it is never 100%. It can be less than a third and can be more than 50% but fat injections are not always consistent even in the same patient. Each transfer can provide a different result. Most doctors slightly overcorrect to account for theloss.

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

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.