Liposuction is used to remove fat from one area of the body, the fat is then processed, and the purified fat is re-injected into either the face, the breasts, or the buttocks.
Fat grafts have increasingly captivated the attention of Plastic Surgeons not only due to their aesthetic capabilities, but also because of their regenerative properties. The regenerative properties are due to the high concentration of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) resident in the fat tissue.
Fat grafting process
The process of fat grafting involves three steps:
- Extraction of the fat from the donor area with liposuction
- Decanting, centrifugation, and processing of the fat
- Reinjection of the purified fat into the area needing improvement
In the first step, fat is extracted from a donor area using liposuction techniques. This is best accomplished by manual methods using thin liposuction cannulas with small holes. Laser or ultrasonic liposuction should not be used for the extraction as it may destroy the fat cells.
The fat is then processed with decanting and centrifugation to separate debris, excess fluid, and dead cells from the viable adipose fat cells. An alternate method is to wash the fat with a sterile saline solution. The fat that is discarded are the fat cells which will likely not survive in the graft and they can even create problems for the good cells.
In the final step, the fat is reinjected in small droplets throughout the subcutaneous tissue of the recipient area. This is to ensure good blood supply to every fat droplet so that the fat graft can survive.
The amount of fat injected is measured in cc’s and ultimately varies according to patient case specifics and the area of the body where the processed fat is being injected.
Common areas of fat grafting
A summary of common fat grafting applications and the associated volumes of fat injected is as follows:
- Restores youthful appearance by adding volume to hollowed out or wrinkled areas such as the area below the eye and the nasolabial folds
- Helps repair scars
- Adds volume to the cheeks to create the appearance of higher cheekbones
- Improves the texture and appearance of the skin
- Increases the breast size by one or two cup sizes
- Corrects breast asymmetry
- Repairs radiation tissue damage and can treat breast implant capsular contractures
- Helps correct scar deformities from lumpectomy or breast reconstruction
HIPS & BUTTOCKS
- Adds volume to achieve a more feminine profile and better waist-hip ratio
- Makes buttocks appear perkier
- Augments buttocks size (aka Brazilian butt lift)
HANDS AND FEET
- Reduces wrinkles and rejuvenates appearance
- Provides padding for bony feet