Fat grafting, also known as fat transfer or fat injection, is the process of taking excess fat from parts of the body, purifying it, and injecting it into other areas of the body that may be lacking in volume—most commonly the face, buttocks, or breasts.
Fat grafting is a safe and long-lasting procedure that is often considered as an alternative to dermal fillers or implants. Fat grafting is noninvasive and the results are natural-looking; however, it is also a fairly complex procedure, since the integrity of the fat cell membranes must be kept intact.
In order to be a good candidate for fat grafting, you must fulfill the two most important criteria: you need donor sites from which excess fat can be taken (such as the outer thighs or abdomen) and you should have volume-deficient areas that you would like to augment.
Many find that a benefit to fat grafting is that it involves taking excess from your own body and does not involve any foreign substances. If you have any known allergies to implant materials, you may be an ideal candidate for fat transfer.
With any plastic surgery procedure, it is always important to choose a board-certified plastic surgeon that has extensive experience and knowledge in their fields of study. Fat grafting is no exception; though it may sound like a simple process, careful cultivation of the fat cells is of the utmost importance to achieve optimal and lasting results.
At the Plastic Surgery Clinic of Chicago, our board-certified plastic surgeons have performed hundreds of fat-grafting procedures successfully and safely. Our focus is on natural results and the newest, most innovative techniques. When you choose our practice, your consultation will involve reviewing every step of the process, all the way through recovery, so that you have a comprehensive understanding of what fat grafting entails.
You and your plastic surgeon will review your medical history to ensure that you are an ideal candidate for fat grafting. Our clinic will never perform a procedure unless we are certain that it is the best course of treatment for your individual wellbeing and aesthetic goals. During your consultation, be sure to ask any questions or voice any concerns you may have, including potential risks associated with fat grafting and the costs thereof.
First, you and your plastic surgeon will determine the donor site, from which excess fat will be removed. After sedation and local anesthetic is administered, the surgeon will make a small incision in the donor area and carefully extract fat cells using a cannula and syringe.
If necessary, the extracted fat will be processed using a centrifuge or other filtration technique to isolate the fat cells. The fat cells are then transferred to smaller syringes to be injected into the volume-deficient area.
The injection process is repeated until the desired results are achieved. Sometimes the newly grafted fat is massaged into the designated area to create natural contours. Finally, a bandage is placed over the grafted area.
The only incisions resulting from fat grafting are at the donor sites, and these incisions are typically very small and produce minimal scarring. If possible, your surgeon will attempt to place the incisions in well-hidden areas of the body.
Swelling and bruising should go down significantly between the first and second week after the procedure. Be prepared to wait at least seven to ten days before returning to your normal level of activity. By the third week, swelling should be completely gone and results should be apparent.
Complications from fat grafting are infrequent, but there are associated risks with any surgical procedure, even those that are noninvasive. Potential risks associated with fat grafting may include:
- Adverse reaction to anesthesia
- Changes in skin sensation
- Hematoma (blood clot)
At the Plastic Surgery Clinic of Chicago, we take every precaution possible to minimize risk by using only the safest, most innovative techniques. You can also reduce risk by adhering strictly to any instructions that your plastic surgeon may give you, both before and after your procedure.
The cost associated with fat grafting varies widely—not only according to your geographic location and surgeon, but also your particular goals and the extent of the procedure. Your plastic surgeon will discuss all associated costs during your consultation. Fat grafting is considered a cosmetic procedure, and is rarely covered by health insurance providers.
If you believe you are a candidate for fat grafting or would like to learn more about the procedure and how it is performed, schedule a consultation with the Plastic Surgery Clinic of Chicago. We will be happy to speak with you and perform an evaluation to see if it is the right fit for you and your aesthetic goals.
All surgical procedures by the Plastic Surgery Clinic of Chicago are performed at top hospitals in Chicago and CMS or AAAASF-certified surgical centers for safety.