What is fat transfer?
Fat transfer, also known as fat grafting, is a procedure in which fat is removed from one area of the body — typically the abdomen, hips or thighs — through liposuction, and injected into another part of the body to plump it up and create new contours. Fat transfer produces very natural-looking results, and because it uses your own tissue, there’s no danger that your body will reject it.
How fat transfer works
First, your surgeon will perform liposuction on the body part from which you’re having fat harvested, called the donor site. Fat is removed gently through small incisions, and the area is contoured to achieve the look you want.
The fat is then processed to remove impurities and loaded into special syringes fitted with small, thin tubes called cannulas. Your surgeon injects the fat into the area where you want to add volume, using a number of tiny injection sites to make sure the fat cells are distributed evenly without pooling. The injected fat cells gradually redevelop a blood supply and take hold in their new home.
If you’re having a large amount of fat removed and/or transferred, your surgeon may do the liposuction and the transfer as two separate procedures. The harvest and injection process can be combined if smaller amounts of fat are involved.
In some cases, your surgeon might inject slightly more fat than you think you need, because some of the cells don’t establish a blood supply and are reabsorbed by the body. Your surgeon might recommend multiple injection appointments for the best results.
Which areas of the body are best for fat transfer?
Fat transfer can address the following issues:
- Adding volume to hollow areas under the eyes
- Creating new breast contours
- Enhancing roundness of the hips
- Filling in deep facial wrinkles
- Improving volume of the buttocks
- Plumping up depressed scars
- Restoring volume to the cheeks
- Smoothing irregular areas on the breasts or abdomen
How soon will you see results with fat transfer?
You’ll see the initial results of your fat transfer right away, though it can take several months for the fat to re-establish blood supply and settle into your new contours. Depending on where you have fat injected, your recovery process may take some time — for example, if you have fat transferred to your buttocks, your surgeon may recommend not sleeping on your back or sitting for long periods.
Frequently Asked Questions About Fat Transfer
A. Once the cells are placed in their new location, they’ll stay there permanently, and their size will remain stable unless you lose or gain a significant amount of weight.
A. It takes about six months for the blood supply to re-establish, and the process continues for up to 18 months.
A. The lips aren’t generally a good target area for fat transfer, because there can be a lot of swelling in the short term, and often the fat doesn’t stay in place well over the long term.
A. If you’re having fat transferred to your face, you may experience swelling and bruising for about a week, with milder swelling for another week or two. Fat transfer to the hips, breasts and buttocks usually results in mild to moderate swelling for about a week.