Have you ever joked with friends that you would like to remove the fat from one part of your body and put it somewhere else on your body? Many women are familiar with this sentiment, but not all women know it is actually a routine procedure called a fat transfer. Fat transfers are performed by plastic surgeons like those found at Northstate Plastic Surgery in Chico, CA.
What Exactly Is a Fat Transfer?
A fat transfer, also known as fat grafting or fat injection, is a great way to add volume to different areas of your body without using artificial fillers. In a fat transfer, gentle liposuction is performed to remove fat from body parts that have fat to spare, such as the outer thighs, inner thighs, hips, lower back, and lower abdomen. The area the fat is removed from is often referred to as the donor site.
Once extracted, the fat from the donor site is transferred to areas of the body that would aesthetically benefit from an increase in volume. Most often, this means the face. The face loses volume as we age, and fat injections are a great way to reverse those effects without using artificial fillers.
Where It Works
This procedure is often used to fill in under-eye bags, plump the cheeks and chin, or correct areas of the face that look creased or sunken. Aside from increasing volume, a fat transfer replenishes nutrients and blood supply to the skin, resulting in a healthier, more youthful appearance.
While it is common to transfer fat to the face, other parts of the body can benefit from this procedure, including:
Fat injections can also be an effective way to treat scars or other abnormal depressions or dimples on the body.
Is a Transfer Better Than Fillers?
The answer to which one of these is better varies from person to person. Fillers are less invasive and require almost no downtime, whereas a fat transfer is a surgical procedure. However, many people view fat grafts as a more natural option, as you are injecting your own organic material back into your body, rather than something synthetic. The natural quality of this treatment also means there are fewer risks and side effects.
In addition, fillers are only a temporary solution to volume woes. If you opt for fillers, you will need treatments regularly—anywhere from every few months to every year. The results of a fat transfer are long-lasting and more permanent than fillers.
What Does the Process Entail?
Once you and your surgeon have decided on a donor site, the fat is harvested from that area by making a small incision and inserting a cannula connected to a syringe for extraction. Once the fat is harvested, it is processed in a special centrifuge that will separate the viable fat cells from the ones of poor quality. Only the most viable fat cells will be injected into the desired area, often referred to as the recipient site.
Your surgeon will then insert a needle or cannula into the incision at the recipient site. Usually, the injection needle or cannula is inserted and withdrawn from the recipient site multiple times to deposit lines of fatty tissue parcels in natural tissue planes until the desired effect has been achieved.
Fat injections can be performed with local anesthesia or IV sedation anesthesia. Usually, local anesthesia is sufficient for the procedure. If you opt for IV sedation, you will need pre-operative clearance from your doctor. During your procedure, your heart, blood pressure, pulse, and oxygen levels will be monitored to ensure your safety.
Length of Procedure
The length of the procedure is determined by the amount of fat removed as well as the number of donor sites. The facial filler will require less fat than what is needed to augment the breasts or buttocks. Typically, the facial filler will take two to three hours, whereas the enhancement of other areas of the body can take up to five hours.
What to Expect Afterwards
Once the transfer is completed, you can expect to be taken into a recovery area where staff will continue to monitor you. Generally, you are able to go home after a short observation period. You will need to have somebody to drive you home after the procedure.
You can usually return to work within a few days, but you should avoid strenuous activity, aerobic exercise, swimming, and lifting of 20 pounds or more until your incisions are completely healed.
There are a few things you must do in preparation for your procedure to ensure optimal results. One of those things is maintaining proper hydration; this is important both before and after your procedure.
If you smoke, it is recommended you quit smoking at least six weeks prior to the procedure to promote healing and reduce scarring. You should also avoid taking aspirin, NSAIDs, and any vitamins or homeopathic supplements that can increase bleeding.
It should be noted that fat grafting is not a treatment for obesity. The best candidates for this procedure are those that are in good health, exercise moderately, and follow a well-balanced diet. Ideally, fat injections are used to complement and enhance other efforts to achieve the desired appearance through diet and exercise.
Fat transfer can be a long-term solution to reversing the effects of aging. To learn more about fat grafting and injections and find out if it’s for you, contact the trusted surgeons at Northstate Plastic Surgery in Chico, CA to schedule your consultation.