Fat Grafting Frequently Asked Questions
1. Am I a good candidate for Fat Grafting?
The purpose of fat grafting is to augment or fill in volume-deficient areas. Commonly grafted, or injected, areas include the hands, face (including the lips), depressions in the skin (following liposuction and scarring) and the buttock (for augmentation). Of course, you must have donor sites from which fat can be taken. It is important that you do not have any circulation problems, either from a medical condition or smoking.
Buttock augmentation with fat grafting: Many people who desire a fuller, more rounded buttock will opt for a “Brazilian butt lift,” which uses fat transfer to provide a more curvaceous buttock without the use of an implant. Liposuction is commonly used to both sculpt the surrounding area and collect the fat to be injected.
Hand rejuvenation with fat grafting: Fat grafting into your hands is effective for adding volume, “plumping up” wrinkled areas, covering underlying vessels and tendons and improving the quality of your skin over time.
2. What are the risks and possible complications associated with my procedure?
Fortunately, significant complications from fat grafting are infrequent. This procedure is usually performed without any major problems. Risks and potential complications of surgery is a subject you should discuss during your consultation. Some of the potential complications of all surgeries are:
- Adverse reaction to anesthesia
- Hematoma or seroma (an accumulation of blood or fluid under the skin that may require removal)
- Changes in sensation
- Allergic reactions
- Damage to underlying structures
- Unsatisfactory results that may necessitate additional procedures
You can help minimize certain risks by following our advice and instructions, both before and after your fat transfer.
3. How long of a recovery period can I expect?
Dr. Hsu will advise you how to care for the sites from which fat was extracted. Recovery from fat injections is variable and perception of that recovery is even more highly variable. Here is some general recovery information related to facial fat injections:
- The swelling and bruising during the first week are significant, and you will not be ready to see others socially or professionally.
- In the second week the bruising resolves, but you will still have swelling.
- There is great improvement in most cases between the seventh and tenth days. Most people who have very little time off from work take one week off, including two flanking weekends. Those who can afford two weeks off or more are even better positioned to return to work.
- By the third week you will begin to look more like yourself. Careful application of makeup can be helpful in camouflaging any residual signs of swelling or bruising.
- Once the swelling recedes, you will be able to appreciate the changes, but subtle swelling may persist for weeks.
4. How can I expect to look over time? What results are reasonable for me?
You can expect the areas to which the fat was transferred to appear softer and fuller, giving you a refreshed and rejuvenated appearance. You may even notice an improvement in skin texture. The survival of the fat and longevity of the results depend on how the fat was harvested and purified, and how and where it was injected. To be performed successfully, fat grafting requires a surgeon, like Dr. Hsu, with highly developed skills based on experience and knowledge of the technique.
- A process called microfat grafting, although labor intensive, is the best way to ensure that the highest percentage of grafted fat will take.
- When done successfully, the injected fat establishes a new blood supply from your body and receives the nourishment it needs for survival. When this happens, results can and often are permanent; however, there may be a percentage of fat that does not take, which is why touchup procedures are sometimes necessary.
5. Where and how will you perform my procedure or treatment?
Fat is harvested from one part of your body, washed and purified, and then carefully reinjected with specially designed needles into the areas that need augmentation. It may be necessary to repeat the fat grafting procedure several times to achieve the desired result. Fat grafting can be explained as a three-stage process: (1) harvesting (2) purification and transfer and (3) placement.
Harvesting: You and Dr. Hsu will select a site for fat removal and will inject it with a local anesthetic. Dr. Hsu will then create a small incision in the area for fat removal and, using a sterile technique, insert a cannula connected to a syringe to carefully extract fat (liposuction).
Purification and transfer: Once enough fat is obtained from the donor area, Dr. Hsu will process it to prepare the fat cells for transfer to small syringes that will be used for fat injection. Purification may require the use of a centrifuge to spin the fat or a filtration process to remove impurities.
Placement: The area designated to receive the graft will then be prepared. Dr. Hsu will insert a needle or cannula into the incision point of the site being augmented. The injection needle is usually passed in and out of the areas to be augmented multiple times. Each time the needle or cannula is withdrawn, a line of fatty tissue parcels is carefully deposited in natural tissue planes. This process is repeated until the desired correction has been achieved, creating a grid of grafted fat. Dr. Hsu will also place a dressing or bandage over the grafted area.
Our goal is to help you achieve the most beautiful and natural-looking results, as well as to make your surgical experience as easy and comfortable as possible.