Autologous Fat Transfer

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What is meant by fat injections?

A. It is the procedure where excess fat is removed from areas such as the abdomen, flanks, hips or thighs and, after special preparation, injected into areas of the body that need filling. We specialize in the use of the microfat grafting technique. The process requires gently fat removal using low-vacuum liposuction and the use of thin, delicate, non-traumatic cannulas to protect the survival of each harvested living fat cell. The fat cells are then purified and slowly injected thru tiny skin incisions into the tissue of the recipient site utilizing a small syringe and cannula. Tiny droplets are placed throughout the tissues assuring that each transferred fat cell will have an adequate blood supply to achieve the permanent survival of the injected fat cells.

Q. What are the uses for fat injections?

A. Face (aesthetic facial contouring)
With aging, the fat of the face undergoes atrophy and the dermis under the skin thins out, as a result of these changes the face appears too thin, making the skin of the face saggy. Microfat grafting adds fat to the area beneath the skin, adding fullness where is needed. The fat injection creates a lasting youthful appearance. Areas that can be treated with fat injections include the temples, zygomatic arch, marionette lines, infra-orbital rims (tear trough), jaw line, nasolabial folds, cheeks, and scars due to acne, varicella, trauma or surgery.

Chin Augmentation
Fat injections safely and effectively correct the small or undeveloped chin avoiding the need to undergo a surgical procedure to place an expensive synthetic chin implant. A chin augmentation will strengthen the face profile, bringing better balance to the facial features. A small chin undermines the face, making the nose appear larger and an overbite more pronounced.

Lip Augmentation
Your own fat can be used for lip augmentation, achieving a permanent natural look. It can also be used for correction of the lines around the mouth. Lip augmentation can increase the fullness and definition of the upper lip, lower lip or both. After 2-5 days the swelling is gone and the lips have a natural fullness. There may be some bruising which can be covered with make-up. Over the first few months some of the fat may be absorbed by the body. For permanent results, 2 injections over a six month period is recommended.

Hand Rejuvenation
Fat injections to the hands achieve the effect of fuller, more contoured hands as those of younger hands.

Buttocks Rejuvenation (Brazilian Lift)
Microfat grafting can add fullness to any part of, or the entire, buttocks to create the desired look. The fat is first gently liposuctioned from the abdomen, flanks, hips or thighs and then processed using a sterile decanting technique. The purified fat is then injected into the buttocks with special cannulas. Postoperative recovery is mild and easily controlled by medication. This office procedure is performed at our office totally under local tumescent anesthesia. The surgical fee depends on the amount of fat which must be obtained and the number of donor areas which must undergo liposuction to obtain enough fat. Microfat grafting assures lasting results and gives a very natural shape and feel to the buttocks. Once the swelling is down, there is a return to normal sensation, the grafted areas look and feel natural and there are no physical restrictions after the first 2 weeks.

Breast Augmentation
Patients who desire breast augmentation but are wary of implants can have breast augmentation using their own fat. We use the microfat grafting technique for breast augmentation. Following the fat transfer the breasts will look and feel normal and the results are long lasting. A small number of patients may develop small fat necrosis areas (also seen in patients who have breast reduction using liposuction). In the past, breast augmentation using fat injections was frowned upon by breast surgeons because the presence of fat necrosis would interfere with breast cancer detection. But MRI changed that. The MRI can determine what fat necrosis is and what can actually be early cancer cells.

Correction of Skin Depressions, Subdermal Attachments and Scars
Facial lines, depressions, folds and depressed scars on the body and face can be successfully treated with injectable fat. However, many deep folds, wrinkles, lines, and scars are resistant to the injected fat or fillers (synthetic and natural) because of the severe attachment of the depression to the underlying deeper tissue. To overcome this problem, we use a novel wire scalpel method that doesn’t require skin incisions to release the attachments. Following the release of the skin fat injection is performed to correct the defect and to act as a spacer to prevent reattachment of the released area.

Fat Injection to Labia Majora
In some women with aging the labia majora may undergo a significant atrophy and the dermis under the skin thins out. As a result of these changes the labia majora becomes flat, saggy, wrinkled, and darkened. We can drastically rejuvenate the labia majora with microfat grafting. The fat injections add fat to the areas beneath the skin, creating fullness where needed that results in a lasting, youthful appearance of the labia majora.

Q. How are fat injections different from commercial fillers?

A. There are many commercial injectable fillers such as Radiesse, Restylane, Captique, Sculptra, Cosmoderm, Cosmoplast, Hylaform, etc, that are available for facial rejuvenation. Each of these products has its own unique set of advantages and disadvantages.

Using fine needles, the fillers are injected into the skin under each depression or wrinkle. The filler pushes the depressed wrinkle forward and makes it less visible. There is temporary discomfort associated with the injection. The use of ice or an anesthetic cream can be used to numb the area, making the injections painless. Three important factors should be considered when selecting a filler: 1) longevity of the filler, 2) cost, and 3) ease of administration. As an example, Restylane (a cosmetic filler) lasts 4-6 months, costs $440-$750 per syringe, is easy to administer, and feels natural. Fat injection is a more involved procedure that requires first harvesting the fat using liposuction and disposable harvest devices. Second, the fat must be processed and purified prior to injection. Fat injections may be associated with more bruising and swelling then commercial fillers. The advantages of fat injections include its long acting effects (the fat that does survive is there permanently); the fat is your own tissue so there is no chance of an allergic reaction; and, unlike commercial fillers, the availability of one’s own body fat enables its use in larger volumes to fill larger defects.