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Fat Transfer

Fat transplantation or fat transfer is the method of removing fat from one area of the body and replacing it in another.  For more than 100 years, this procedure has been done to correct flaw such as scars.  Today, transferring fat is done to increase body areas such as the lips, buttocks, hollowed cheeks, sunken eyes, hands and breasts. 

How is fat transferred?  Depending on the amount and the area in question it can be done under “twilight sedation” or general anesthesia.  Areas that need a small amount can even be done in the office under local anesthetic.  The fat is taken from thighs, abdomen or buttocks using a liposuction technique.  A thin straw like tube called a cannula suctions out the fat.  The fat cells are then processed by the physician and then transferred or re-injected into the target area.  Usually a significant amount of the fat will be reabsorbed by the body.  Because of this the physician may “over correct” by injecting up to 30% more into the treated area. This procedure offers many benefits.  Since the materials or in this case fat that is used is the persons own, there is no chance of an allergic or rejection reaction.   The fat also feels more natural than a synthetic implant.  Improvements are seen immediately with the final result taking a few months or longer to be evident. 

Unfortunately fat transfer results are not always predictable.  It can take several days for the blood to reach the transferred fat cells.  During that time up to 60% of those cells can be reabsorbed by the body. For this reason 3-4 treatments over a six month period may be required to reach the desired result.   Each time the transfer is repeated, more fat accumulates, leading to lasting results.  In many cases a fat transfer may last greater than three years.  Most dermal fillers will last only 3-9 months.  And if the fat is transferred into larger areas with less movement, such as a breast it could last even longer.

General side effects for this procedure include redness, swelling, bruising, scabbing and pain at the injection site.  Complications tend to be infrequent, but as with any medical procedure are possible. The most common difficulty with fat transfer is asymmetry especially in areas on the face or breast.

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