Fat Grafting Procedure

What is Fat Grafting?

Fat grafting or lipofilling involves the use of a patient’s own fat to be placed as a graft in areas of the body to restore or replace volume. This may be done to the aging face, in breast augmentation or reconstruction, the hands or buttocks. Fat is also used to correct cases of overdone liposuction resulting in soft tissue depressions.

We have learned that fat contains a large amount of stem cells. In fact, fat contains 500 times more stem cells than bone marrow. We believe that in addition to being an excellent means of restoring volume to various areas of the body, the stem cells may provide additional benefits by virtue of associated growth factors and other effects.

In most cases fat grafting involves a general anesthetic, and recovery may range from a few days to a couple of weeks. In the case of facial fat grafting, prolonged bruising and swelling are possible. Generally one-half to two-thirds of the volume of fat graft placed may be retained. By three months we feel that the volume we see from grafting is stable.

It is important to consider options other than fat grafting and the relative benefits of these different options. Dr. Van Natta will go over these options in detail and discuss the tradeoffs and benefits of each.

What are the risks and complications of Fat Grafting?

In addition to the minimal risks of anesthesia for most healthy patients, fat grafting involves liposuction, and there can be swelling and bruising in the area where fat is harvested. Also, potentially there can be some soft tissue depressions in the areas where the fat is removed. If these occur they can usually be corrected (sometimes with fat grafting!) but may involve additional surgery and associated costs. Additional risks include: infection, bleeding or bruising, prolonged swelling, palpable lumps, possible unsatisfactory cosmetic appearance and failure to correct the preoperative problem.

Recovery after fat grafting surgery can vary from a few days to a few weeks depending on the area treated and the amount of overall surgery being performed.