What is Fat Grafting and What is it Used For?

Fat Grafting also known as Fat Transfer

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Cosmetic surgery involves more than removing fat or adding fillers. The best plastic surgery contours your face or body, creating balanced proportions so that your features work well together. That’s where fat grafting comes in. This technique is also known as fat transfer. It involves injecting a patient’s own fat into areas of the body that need improvement.

Benefits of Fat Grafting

The benefits of fat grafting include:
  • Removal of unwanted fat: Liposuction removes fat from unwanted areas, such as the bra bulge, inner thighs, or midsection.
  • Creates Contours: Injecting fat into areas that need more bulk creates contours and volume in areas such as the buttocks, face, or breasts.
  • Combination procedure: You can remove excess fat and fill other areas in the same session, easily creating a desirable silhouette.
  • Reduced chance of complications: The procedure uses your own fat as a filler, which is biocompatible with your system. This reduces the risk of allergic reactions or rejection.
  • Multiple applications: You can use the procedure in several areas for cosmetic or reconstructive improvements.
  • Natural results: The procedure is well tolerated and delivers results that look natural.

The Procedure

Plastic surgeons commonly perform fat grafting. The process has three parts:
1. Liposuction removes fat from the donor area.
2. The fat is processed to separate waste and retain healthy cells.
3. Purified fat is injected beneath the skin in specific areas.

This procedure is more complex than simply adding filler because it involves removing and preparing fatty tissue. Therefore, a treatment session lasts longer than an appointment for a prepackaged filler.

Recovery from fat grafting takes a little longer than with dermal fillers. First, patients need to heal from the liposuction. Second, patients should know that the final results can take three to six months to show up. That’s because the injected fat is made up of living cells that need to become reestablished in the affected region.

Up to 50 percent of the injected fat may be absorbed by the body. That’s why plastic surgeons often overfill the area initially.

If you are using fat transfer to augment the breasts or buttocks significantly, you may have to return for multiple sessions. Patients may require some touchups but fat grafting is permanent.

What is Fat Grafting Commonly Used For?

If you simply want to remove unwanted fat, you could consider liposuction. Patients typically choose fat grafting when they wish to fill in sunken areas or add volume in certain regions. Some common uses for fat grafting include:

  • Fill in hollow areas of the face, such as under the eyes
  • Enhance the cheekbones
  • Reduce wrinkles, especially in the folds that run from the nose to lips
  • Plump the skin and improve its texture
  • Correct breast asymmetry
  • Round out areas of the body, such as the hips
  • Fill in irregularities after surgeries such as breast augmentation
  • Create an hourglass figure, such as with a Brazilian butt lift
  • Correct deformities from scars
  • Rejuvenate the appearance of hands and feet

What to Expect After a Fat Transfer Procedure

Recovery from a fat grafting procedure usually involves mild to moderate discomfort for 48 hours. You may experience bruising and swelling in the injection sites, which peaks at approximately 72 hours.

Your surgeon will recommend medications and other treatments to minimize pain and inflammation. You may use cool, dry compresses to minimize swelling in the injection areas. The incisions from the liposuction typically require monitoring, cleaning and compressive dressing. It can take up to two weeks before most patients are comfortable going out in public or returning to work.

Patients will return to the surgeon for a follow-up appointment in the weeks following the procedure. The doctor will ensure that the patient is healing properly and provide advice for the remainder of the recovery period.

Am I a Good Candidate for Fat Grafting?

Fat grafting is most commonly sought by patients between the ages of 30 and 65. Ideal candidates must first have areas where fat can be harvested from.

They should also be in good general health, with adequate circulation. People who smoke or have abnormal bleeding may not qualify for the procedure.

Liposuction can remove stubborn fat deposits, but it’s not ideal for weight loss. Patients who are considering fat grafting should already be at their goal weight. They may have extra fat in specific areas, such as their love handles, that doesn’t seem to respond to their fitness and weight-loss efforts.

Patients should also have realistic expectations. A consultation with a cosmetic specialist will help you learn more about what you can achieve from a fat grafting procedure. It’s important to be open to other approaches if fat grafting is not the right procedure to achieve the results that you want.

If you are seeking fat grafting in the Miami area, get in touch today to book your complimentary consultation with Dr. Castrellón.


Note: Photo features a model for illustration purposes. Not an actual patient.

Frequently Ask Questions

Fat transfer recovery time varies from patient to patient, but most people should arrange to take at least 7-10 days off from work and other social activities. Initial healing takes a few weeks, after which the swelling will gradually subside before the final results are apparent.

After the surgery you will notice some bruising and swelling in the are of injection. This usually peaks within 2-3 days after the procedure. After 72 hours the swelling and bruising rapidly subside. To minimize the swelling, sleep with your head elevated for 4 weeks after surgery.

We advise patients to sleep on their backs with their heads elevated for at least a week following facial fat grafting surgery. We also advise patients to avoid rubbing their face for at least 2 weeks (only soft washing is advised).

Wear a compression garment (i.e. – spandex type clothing) in the area where the liposuction was performed to harvest the fat for the fat injection for 2 weeks after surgery.

Not all the transferred fat cells will survive so you might need to undergo additional sessions to achieve your desired outcome. There is no limit to how many times fat grafting can be done. Each session is commonly spaced by 6-12 weeks.

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