Fat Grafting/Fat Transfer
Fat grafting, also known as autologous fat transfer, has become a popular means of adding volume to various areas of the body including the face, breasts and gluteal region. A small cannula is used to harvest the fat from one’s own body, similar to a liposuction procedure. The fat is then injected into the desired area using a small syringe until the desired contour is achieved. Because it is your own fat cells being injected, there is no risk of an immune response or rejection. Like all surgeries, however, small risks of infection exist. It is common for roughly 50% of the fat to be broken down by the body by 6-9 months after the surgery. As such, another grafting procedure could be necessary. While the harvested fat is thought to be rich in stem cells, this should not be confused with stem cell grafting which has received much attention in the media. To date, there is not strong clinical evidence supporting the use of stem cell grafting in aesthetic surgery. In breast reconstruction, however, there is published literature suggesting fat grafting can improve contour abnormalities following mastectomy and also improve tissue injury following radiation.
Fat transfer can be a wonderful adjunct to cosmetic procedures such as facelifts, eyelid surgery or alone as volume enhancers used like fillers. In breast surgery, Dr. Mesbahi limits its use to reconstruction surgery and revision of breast reconstructions. Its use in aesthetic surgery is somewhat controversial due to the potential of the fat grafts turning into lipocysts or becoming hard like areas known as fat necrosis. The lumps can then create concern for breast cancer necessitating further work up or even biopsies.
In the hands of an experience surgeon, fat grafting is a safe and reliable procedure for both aesthetic and reconstructive surgery.