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Fat Transfer/Grafts and Flaps*

Fat Transfer Procedures, Fat Grafts and Injections

A person’s own fat may be used to improve the appearance of the body by moving it from an area where it is less needed (usually the thighs or abdomen) to an area that has lost tissue volume due to aging, trauma, surgery, birth defects, or other causes.  Typically, the transferred fat results in an increase in volume of the body site being treated.  Before the procedure, the areas from where the fat is being removed may be injected with a fluid to minimized bruising and discomfort.  The fat may be removed from the body by a narrow surgical instrument (cannula) through a small incision or may be excised (cut out) directly through a larger incision.  In some cases, the fat may be prepared in a specific way before being replaced back in the body.  This preparation may include washing, filtering, and centrifugation (spinning) of the fat.  The fat is then placed into the desired area using either a smaller cannula or needle, or it may be placed directly through an incision or puncture holes.  Since some of the fat that is transferred does not maintain its volume over time, your surgeon may inject more than is needed at the time to achieve the desired end result.  Over a few weeks, the amount of transferred fat will decrease.  At times, more fat may need to be transferred to maintain the desired results.  Fat transfer procedures may be done using a local anesthetic, sedation, or general anesthesia depending on the extent of the procedure.

Fat Transfer to the Buttock

Buttock enhancement surgery potentially improves the buttock shape and increases the volume of the buttock. Large volumes of fat transfer are often required. However, the transferred fat may become firm and cause lumps, in addition to other risks such as infection, bleeding, seroma and fat necrosis. As discussed, fat resorption can also occur.

Fat Transfer, Hand

Fat can be transferred to the hands to re-contour them, give a more youthful appearance, and hide some of the underlying structures that become more apparent with age. Besides the complications related to fat grafting in general, fat transfer to the hands may cause swelling and bruising that may last for a prolonged period of time.

Fat Transfer, Breast

Fat transfer has been used to improve the appearance of breasts reconstructed after cancer treatment, to improve the appearance of breast deformities, and to enlarge breasts for cosmetic purposes.  While there is limited information regarding the long-term implications of such procedures, there are some potential concerns especially with regards to breast cancer detection.  Since the transferred fat may become firm and cause lumps, it may be necessary to have radiological studies (mammogram, ultrasound, or MRI) performed to be sure these lumps are not due to cancer.  It is also possible that the firmness may make it more difficult for you or your doctor to examine the breasts.  It is also possible that a biopsy may be needed if there is concern about any abnormal findings in your breasts.  However, there is no reason currently to believe that fat transfer procedures may cause breast cancer.

Fat Transfer to the breast for cosmetic augmentation may require additional surgical procedures to obtain your desired breast size. A limited amount of fat can be injected during each surgical procedure to maintain viability. Sometimes adjuvant devices (Brava) are recommended to assist in this process.

Fat Transfer, Face

Fat can be placed throughout the face to give a more youthful appearance. Common areas of fat transfer include the temples, the folds around the mouth, cheeks & chin. This is an alternative to traditional fillers such as hyaluronic acid or hydroxyapatite. Because the fat is living, it is a more permanent solution. Fat transfer to the face may cause complications such as lumps, puffiness, infection, and bleeding. Vision abnormalities, including blindness, may occur in rare instances. In rare cases, fat transfer to the face can block oxygen supply to the brain, resulting in a stroke.

  • Myocutaneous Flap

Musculocutaneous flap surgery involves the transfer of muscle with a skin paddle from one part of your body to another to either reconstruct and/or aid in healing of that area. The flap (tissue that is moved) maintains its own blood supply, and helps nourish the tissue that is transferred to the area in question.

  • Free Myocutaneous Flap

Free musculocutaneous flap surgery involves the transfer of muscle fat, and skin from one part of your body to another to either reconstruct and/or aid in healing of that area. Once the muscle/fat/skin has been transferred, the surgeon uses a microscope to reconnect the artery(s) and vein(s) of the muscle to blood vessels in the recipient region to reestablish blood flow.

*Disclaimer: Plastic & Cosmetic Surgery Results Can Vary Significantly Between Patients. In terms of results and expectations, there are numerous variables with every patient, each surgery and every recovery and healing period. For more information click to read our full Disclaimer