Fat injection, also known as fat grafting or fat transplantation, transfers fat from areas which have excess fat (“donor site”) to another part of the body (“recipient site”). This is performed mainly to fill volume-deficient areas, and also to smooth out wrinkles and creases.
Fat injection can be used to:
The fat is collected by
liposuction from areas with relative fatty excess (“donor sites”), such as the abdomen, buttocks and thighs. This has the added benefit of slimming down the donor areas.
Although only about 50% to 60% of the transferred fat will survive the process, the fat that survives will remain permanently without any risk of rejection by the body. The results are also safe and natural. Fat is therefore considered the ideal permanent filler material. However, in cases of large volume augmentation such as for the breasts and buttocks, you may require multiple sessions to achieve your desired breast or buttock size.
If only a small volume of fat needs to be transferred, the procedure can be performed under local anaesthesia with or without sedation in a day surgery setting. For larger volumes of fat transfer, general anaesthesia may be recommended and an overnight stay in hospital for observation.
To facilitate collection of fat through liposuction, the donor site is injected with a mixture of fluid, painkillers and other medication to reduce pain and bleeding during the collection process. The fat will be sucked away using suction probes through small incisions which are carefully placed to ensure that they are as hidden as possible. The collected fat is then purified and re-injected through small cuts into the desired parts of the body using a needle or probe.
The wounds that result from this procedure are usually small and require minimal dressings. In some cases, a dressing or bandage may be placed over the grafted area to protect it to maximise fat survival. Some pain, bruising and swelling is to be expected, depending on the amount of fat that is transferred. Overall, there is generally minimal down time from this procedure.
To optimise fat survival, you should avoid excessive pressure to the grafted area during the recovery period, and also excessive strenuous activity or exercise. A proportion of the fat that is transferred will be absorbed over time, and the final results are usually observed after 6 months. If you have chosen to undergo fat grafting for volume enhancement, you may require several sessions of fat grafting, spaced several months apart, to achieve your desired size.
Fortunately, significant complications from fat grafting are infrequent. Risks include:
The subject of risks, as well as potential complications of surgery are best discussed on a personal basis between you and your plastic surgeon.