What Are Ways to Help Prevent Fat Embolisms During Lipo/Fat Grafting?

What are ways to help prevent the occurrence of fat embolisms during lipo/fat grafting?

Doctor Answers 4

Safe Technique For Fat Injection

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Three technical approaches minimize the risk of fat embolus during a fat transfer. The first is that the fat should only be placed in tiny droplets. This is required for new blood vessels to grow into the transplanted fat but also prevents a very large bolus from being injected into a vessel. The second technical consideration is that the fat is injected ONLY when the cannula is being withdrawn. This minimzes the risk of vessel puncture. The third technical detail is, as Dr. Baxter mentioned, the blunt cannula is used to decrease the liklihood of penetrating a blood vessel. The safety profile for this procedure is high.

Seattle Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 117 reviews

Fat embolism risk with fat injection

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Unfortunately all procedures carry some risks. I believe that there have been some recent deaths reported down in Columbia. These women were seeking buttock augmentation with mega fat grafting. The exact incidents are being investigated. Early reports support fat embolism as a common culprit. This issue was addressed yesterday at a national meeting in Chicago. Most experts feel that proper surgical technique is essential to safe fat grafting. There is probably a greater risk of fat embolism when fat is injected into large sized blood vessels. Find someone who is experienced in any procedure you might consider having. Good luck

Craig Harrison, MD, PA
Tyler Plastic Surgeon

Fat grafting techniques are safe with good technique

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The risk of fat embolism, which is what would happen if a piece of fat was injected into a blood vessel, is very low. Modern techniques use blunt-tipped instruments so they won't cut blood vessels. Fat grafting is becoming more frequently done now and with more predictable results.

Richard Baxter, MD
Seattle Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 59 reviews

Avoiding fat embolism with a fat graft.

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1. Only use blunt tipped cannulas.

2.  Don't inject fat under high pressure.

3.  Inject while withdrawing the syringe.

4.  Inject micro-droplets at a time.

Recently, some companies are pushing the idea of using intra-operative ultrasound to look for vessels in the operative area, so that you can avoid unintended cannulation of the vessel.


All the best,

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.