Fat grafting

Written by Dr Jill Tomlinson on .

enquiringwomandecolletagefaceFat grafting can provide a long-lasting enhancement to lips, hands, eyes, cheeks, temporal hollows, areas of contour deformity and more.

What does the procedure involve?

Fat is harvested from another body area with gentle liposuction through a very small cannula. Most commonly the fat is taken from the abdomen or thighs. The fat is immediately processed to remove excess oil and fluid. The fat is then placed in the treatment area with many passes through tiny incisions (1-2mm), using a blunt cannula in a weaving pattern to separate tissue without damaging underlying structures.

Can dermal fillers be used instead?

Absolutely, hyaluronic acid, poly-L-lactic acid and calcium hyroxylapatite fillers can be used instead of fat and these do have good temporary results (3-15 months). However, using fillers can be expensive in areas where a volume of 1mL or greater is required. A benefit of using fat is that it is a natural product that comes from your own body and can achieve long-lasting results - although the extent to which a fat transfer maintains long term results is variable.

What is the recovery period?

The treatment area is initially swollen. It is important to avoid touching, massaging or compressing the treatment area during the first week. Cold compresses are recommended to reduce swelling.

Dressings will be applied to your treatment and your fat graft donor sites. These and any sutures will be removed at one week after surgery. At this time you will be instructed how to perform regular massage and other techniques to maximise your outcome.

The swelling will reduce gradually, with the majority of swelling resolving in the first 2-3 weeks.  If less fat is transferred this will minimise the trauma of transfer and minimise the swelling, but the long term outcome will also be less successful. There will still be mild swelling for many weeks; the eventual outcome of surgery can be judged at the 6 month stage.

What are the possible complications?

The main post operative issue is that of swelling, which resolves over time. Some patients may notice small lumps or irregularitites as the swelling resolves, perhaps caused by uneven fat distribution or migration. Other possible complications include infection, cyst formation and temporary alteration in sensation (numbness, burning or tingling). Multiple treatments are commonly required to achieve a long term, sustained outcome.

To schedule an appointment to see Dr Tomlinson about fat grafting please phone (03) 9427-9596.

Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks.
Before proceeding you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.