Society’s relationship to fat is weird, isn’t it? In some places, we can’t stand an extra inch of it, and in others, we feel sad once he’s gone. Take our cheeks for example: Google “how do I make my face look slimmer” and you’ll find over 4 million entries with all kinds of slimming tips. But once we reach a certain age and start losing volume in the cheeks and midsection, our fat suddenly becomes a hot commodity.
The same can be said about our bodies. While we may not want to increase body fat around our waistline, to reshape our breasts and butt, a little bit of fat can go a long way. This is where autologous fat transfers come in. Here, we explore how long this all-natural filler lasts in all the places we actually want it.
Fat Transfer Basics
Fat transfer involves taking fatty tissue from one part of the body and redistributing it to another part. Think of fat transfer as the cosmetic world’s Robin Hood procedure, stealing from the fat-rich areas of our bodies to give to the poor. Miami plastic surgeon Sean Simon explains, “Simply put, fat is removed by liposuction from unwanted areas, and then it is ‘harvested’ for use in sculpting areas that may be undersized.”
These are the areas most commonly injected with fat for rejuvenation or to increase volume. New York plastic surgeon William Lau notes that in terms of what absorbs best, “Facial fat grafts tend to have a higher take rate than on-body transfers.”
Fat is considered an organic filler. “We can add fat in hollow areas like the temporal region, cheeks, nasolabial folds, marionette lines, and sometimes the jaw line,” says Houston plastic surgeon Henry A. Mentz, MD.
“Breast augmentation can be done by transferring fat naturally to slightly increase the cup size,” notes Houston plastic surgeon Kriti Mohan, MD. “It can also be particularly useful for correcting mild breast asymmetry.”
Simon says the fat is effective at rejuvenating the hands with a natural appearance, “particularly in older patients when the fat is atrophic, leaving a slim, venous appearance with prominent tendons.” The injection of fat in the back of the hands leads to a decrease in the sagging of the skin and the appearance of barely visible superficial veins.
The Brazilian butt lift is the process of transferring fat to the buttocks. “It adds more fullness and you can also contour the outer hip, producing an hourglass shape and reducing the appearance of sagging hip,” Dr. Mohan explains. Although the famous surgery, Eugene, or plastic surgeon Mark Jewell, says it also has certain risks, including a high death rate from fatty embolism.
This can include, “the abdomen or thighs to correct contour defects from previous surgeries, such as liposuction, cancer removal, or trauma,” says San Diego plastic surgeon Joseph L.
The amount of fat that remains in the body is highly dependent on the patient’s anatomy, as well as the surgeon’s specific technique and experience. According to La Jolla, MD, a California plastic surgeon, Robert Singer, MD, who has been lecturing on facial fat transfers since the 1980s, “In general, 30 to 50 percent of the fat injected will remain. Some patients will benefit from a second session.”
“Many patients who have had facial fat injections come back after many years with minimal fat loss,” Dr. Lau explains.
After about six months, the remaining fat cells should remain for a long time. Dr. Grzeskiewicz notes that we should think of fat transfer as more of a rejuvenation process than just an injection. “Don’t think about how long body fat stays in terms of duration or how much stay in terms of percentage or volume, because it doesn’t seem to work that way,” he explains. In addition to ‘fat cells’, or mature fat cells, fat also contains other important components such as stem cells, progenitor or progenitor cells that eventually grow into fully formed fat cells, fibroblasts, microscopic blood vessels and cells that cling to the walls of those cells, And the fibers themselves — they all seem to play their own roles in this regeneration process.”
The results were reported in a recent study in Open world plastic and reconstructive surgery It was reported that with fat transfer, new blood supply, cell growth, fiber content, and other things related to the fat appear in the skin at about six months, and these changes appear to be long-lasting. This means that the injected fat continues to form new tissue growth after it is injected, which appears to be living tissue that is functioning normally.
“Although fat transfer goes through a process of reabsorption, the percentage of reabsorption can vary from patient to patient, procedure to procedure, and site of grafting,” adds Dr. Lau. “However, the rest of the transferred fat usually lasts forever.”
New innovations give patients more choices about how to transfer fat to an entirely new location.
rigging a six-pack
In procedures such as high-definition liposuction, fat can be manipulated to create a defined appearance of muscle. “It is possible to use fat to perform 3D drilling on the abdomen and other areas in order to obtain a more proportional and sculpted appearance,” explains Dr. Mohan.
Although not yet approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), some doctors are incorporating platelet-rich plasma (PRP) into their lipid transfusions to help promote cell regeneration. “In addition to using powered liposuction to harvest the fat, the fat can then be mixed with PRP, allowing a better survival environment for the transplanted fat cells,” says Dr. Simon.
Some devices and technologies allow doctors to break the fat into smaller pieces to create “nanophate” injections. “We can then inject with a 30-gauge needle, which is the same needle we use to inject Botox,” says Dr. Grzeskiewicz. According to Dr. Mintz, fat can help repair bra strap indents for patients with larger breasts: “I often add fat to the grooved areas to give the shoulders a more slender and feminine look. This has helped my patients feel more confident in their clothes.”
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