What is a Fat Transfer?

Fat transfers involve harvesting a patient’s adipose (fat) cells from an area of the body with unwanted fat, purifying the fat cells, and then re-injecting them into an area where more volume is desired. Fat transfer is an alternative to dermal fillers and to breast augmentation with implants for moderate size increase.

Who is an ideal candidate?

The goal of fat grafting is to augment or replace volume. Common areas for fat transfers include the face, lips, hands, breasts, and buttocks. Ideal candidates have extra fat that can be harvested. Fat transfers add and restore volume; they don’t rectify sagging skin.

    • Face — If you have facial creases such as laugh and smile lines, and volume loss in the cheeks and around the lips, fat transfer can return volume. Areas under the eyes respond well to fat transfers. The lips can also be injected to add shape and volume.
    • Breasts — If you want a modest increase in breast size without implants, a fat transfer could work for you. Fat transfers in the breasts are for women with nicely shaped breasts that have lost a little volume or if the patient wants moderately larger breasts. Fat transfers will not create a significant increase and are not for cases of sagging breasts.
    • Buttocks — The Brazilian butt lift is basically a fat transfer. Liposuction removes fat from an area such as the lower abdomen or hips. The fat is then re-injected into the buttocks to make the buttocks more rounded and full.
    • Hands — Fat transfer on the hands is effective for plumping up wrinkled areas and covering underlying blood vessels and tendons.

How is a fat transfer done?

Fat transfer is a three-step process: harvesting, purification and transfer, and placement. Your harvest site is selected and it is anesthetized. A small incision is made and a small cannula inserted to carefully extract the fat. The fat is then placed in a centrifuge to remove impurities. The purified fat is returned to small syringes. Dr. Lorenc then uses the syringes to inject the fat into the target area in a series of injections. The areas may be massaged to help create a satisfactory contour.

Where are the areas that the fat can be harvested?

Common sites for harvesting your fat include the abdomen, the flanks (love handles), posterior arms, the hips, and the thighs.

How is fat transfer compared with dermal fillers?

Autologous fat comes from your own body so there is little chance of an allergic reaction. Dermal fillers, especially synthetic fillers, can sometimes trigger an allergic reaction. Also, fat transfer is permanent. Although your body will absorb some of the injected fat, much of what is injected will take permanently. Dermal fillers such as Juvederm have a limited duration, usually up to one year, before the body eventually absorbs the filler and its volume enhancement fades.

What is recovery like after fat transfer?

Swelling and bruising can be significant during your first week. You’ll need to take up to a week off of work or public activities, preferably with weekends on both ends. During the second week your bruising clears, but swelling persists. Between the seventh and tenth days, the swelling will be greatly diminished but it will still be there, and subtle continued swelling can persist for a few weeks.

How long will my results last?

The longevity of your results depends on the survival of the fat that was transferred. This depends in large part on the expertise of the surgeon, and Dr. Lorenc has extensive experience. The goal is for the injected fat to establish a connection to the blood supply in the injected area. When this happens, the injected fat will endure. But some of the fat will not “take.” This is why later touchup procedures can be necessary to fill out certain areas.

What are the risks of fat transfers?

Fat transfers are considered to be natural, non-invasive procedures. There are rarely any complications, but those that do occur are the same as with any surgical procedure.

Schedule a Consultation

If you would like to learn more about fat transfer, call (212) 472-2900 to schedule a consultation with Dr. Z. Paul Lorenc.