Factualising Fat Transfer

Posted on the 24 July 2019 at 13:59

The concept of Free Fat Transfer (FTT) has been around since the late 1800s, when fat was first reported to have been used to fill soft tissue defects. Since then, the scope of fat transfer techniques has been continuously broadened to include tissue defect repairs in the face, breasts, and other areas of the body.

Fat transfer is a minimally invasive ´outpatient´ procedure in which an individual's own body fat is harvested from suitable areas such as the inner knees, outer thighs, flanks, buttocks, or abdomen. The fat is then injected into the desired area (breasts, buttocks, hand, penis, neck or face) to add volume. This results in a loss of unwanted fat from the donor area alongside with an increase in the size of the recipient area. For breast augmentation, FTT is a procedure which is generally considered safe and recognised as an alternative to breast implants; which can have complications like capsule formation (hardening), migration or rippling. It is also known as ´Autologous Fat Transfer´ because the fat that is being used for injecting is harvested from your own body.

Fat transfer is a technique which is increasing in popularity as an option to add volume to a desired area. At present, it is more popular for breast enhancement and buttock augmentation (Brazilian Butt Lift). The FTT technique can also be used for facial rejuvenation to add lost volume in specific areas. In certain cases, it can also be used for penis enlargement.

The FTT technique has attracted a certain degree of notoriety, both positive and negative. The British Association Of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) has recently suggested that their members limit the amount of such procedures that are undertaken. Certain high-profile cases (both in the UK and USA) have drawn attention to the mortality rates associated with procedure, especially relating to the Brazilian Butt Lift (BBL). This operation is currently flagged as ´one of the most dangerous in the world´ and was recently highlighted again in the British press. Earlier this year, Leah Cambridge travelled from Leeds to a private clinic in Turkey to have the BBL surgery undertaken. However, due to ´complications´ within the procedure, the 29-year-old patient died on the operating table from multiple heart attacks relating to fat embolisms.

As with every type of cosmetic procedure, the associated benefits and risks should be carefully and clearly explained. All registered aesthetic professionals will be happy to discuss this procedure in detail, alongside any additional protocols they may have to undertake. This will allow them to recognise and limit any associated surgical and post-surgical risks. As with all treatments, there are levels of risk which the patient should be clearly made aware and be discussed in full at the consultation.

The Fat Transfer Procedure

Autologous fat transfer is performed under local anaesthetic or sedation and takes approximately 1-2 hours to complete. It is a three-step process:

  1. Extraction of fat with gentle liposuction.
  2. Isolation and cleansing of the fat cells.
  3. Re-injection of fat cells into the targeted areas.

Extraction Of Fat With Gentle Liposuction

We commonly use the minimally invasive (low negative pressure) liposuction technique for fat harvesting from the donor area. In this procedure, a very thin cannula is inserted into this area. The fat is gently extracted with the thin metallic cannula via suction through keyhole incisions.

Isolation And Cleansing Of Fat Cells

Once enough fat is obtained from the desired area, the surgeon then processes it to prepare the fat cells for transfer in smaller syringes.

Re-injection Of Extracted Fat Cells Into The Targeted Areas

The surgeon will insert a cannula into the incision point of the site which is being augmented. This injection needle is usually passed multiple times in and out of the pre marked area; thus a line of fatty tissue bundle is carefully deposited in planes of the natural tissue. This procedure is repeated until the desired correction has been achieved. The surgeon may also use a dressing or bandage over the grafted area for additional protection.

Features And Benefits Of Fat Transfer

Autologous fat transfer has the following advantages over traditional breast and buttock augmentation.

  • Fat transfer is a simple and less stressful surgical procedure on the body than other traditional methods.
  • The minimally invasive VASER lipo-technique ensures little to no damage to the surrounding areas and the nerves, blood vessels and connective tissues.
  • There is no chance of an allergic reaction because the fat cells already belong to your body.
  • Relatively less-invasive in comparison to traditional methods.
  • It helps reduce weight from other parts of the body as surgeon uses candidate’s own excess fat to enhance and augment the size of the breasts or buttocks.
  • FTT can be performed under local anaesthesia and as an out-patient procedure, without the need for an overnight stay in hospital.
  • Minimum downtime and quicker recovery than traditional ´invasive’ methods which leads to minimal post-surgical scarring, bruising and bleeding.
  • Noticeable and predictable immediate results with continued improvement up to six months after surgery.
  • It is generally considered to be a more effective procedure, with less associated risks.

Fat Transfer To Breasts

Breast augmentation by breast implants is a main option, but augmentation with fat transfer can also give a double advantage. Here, fat transfer is a 2 in 1 cosmetic treatment as the removal of stubborn fat is done by VASER liposuction from the problematic donor region. Then, the same fat cells are injected into the desired area to add volume, leaving you with a double advantage without any chance of allergic reaction.

The ideal candidates for fat transfer are those women who feel that their breasts have reduced in size after giving childbirth, from breastfeeding or due to weight loss or ageing. They may also simply not want to use an implant to increase the size of their breasts and are looking for a similar procedure with minimal downtime and recovery period.

If you desire a larger size of breasts after this stage, it is suggested using breast implants, or to repeat the fat transfer around 4-6 months. This will give a breast size increase of another 1/2 cup to 1 cup size. However, as compared to breast augmentation with implants; these may be more expensive because it is a longer procedure and usually requires touch-ups and repetition. The good thing about multiple procedures with fat transfer is that you are losing the unwanted fat from the donor areas such as abdomen, waistline or thighs.

Fat Transfer To Buttocks

In case of fat transfer to the buttocks, you will also get the added augmentation benefit, without any chance of allergic reaction. This again can be attributed to Autologous Fat Transfer, with the donor sites typically used for fat transfer to buttocks being taken from the stomach, back or thighs.

Facial Fat Transfer

Fat transfer to face, Micro-lipo injection of fat or autologous fat transfer, is a minimally invasive day case procedure to restore lost volume to different areas of the face. In this procedure, an individual's own body fat is harvested from suitable areas such as the inner knees, outer thighs, flanks, buttocks, or abdomen. It is then injected into the desired areas of the face to locally volumise these areas. This is a good option for patients who would like to diminish or eliminate the appearance of wrinkles, smile lines, marionette lines, crow’s-feet, hollows under the eyes, or ‘sunken' cheeks. It may also be used for lip augmentation.

Fat transfer can help to improve acne scars and enhance the contours of the jawline. The advancements in techniques for harvesting and transfer have been shown to improve the quality of the skin. This is due to the adipose derived stem cells that are present in the fat. FFT is most effective when it is used to fill small soft tissue defects in the face and also to improve scars.

Fat Transfer For Penis Enlargement

The penis girth can be thickened through this type of fat transfer. The surgery is known as Penile Free Fat Transfer ‘FFT’, Fat Grafting, or Autologous Fat Transfer. The donor areas typically used for fat harvesting for this are the abdomen or thighs. The fat is lipo-suctioned and after filtration and isolation, the purified fat is injected through one or more tiny incisions around the penile shaft. This is undertaken using bespoke injection techniques to ensure the survival of the fat. This surgery is performed as a day care surgery under local anaesthesia. The stitches are dissolvable and the incisions heal with almost no visible scar.

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