Fat Transfers: How Much Fat and How Long Does It Last?
Many of our patients at Glamour Plastic Surgery and Med Spa are opting for surgical treatments that produce a more natural look and feel. One procedure that has gained a lot of popularity in recent years is fat transfer, or fat grafting.
Dr. Bachilo has been performing fat transfers to produce beautiful enhancements to different areas of the body while avoiding lengthy surgical recovery periods for many of her patients who want to rejuvenate their appearance while avoiding more invasive procedures, such as facelifts or implant based augmentation.
What is fat grafting?
Fat grafting, also known as fat transfer or fat injections, is a procedure through which fat is transferred from one area of the body to another with the goal of augmenting or enhancing the target area into which the fat is injected.
Fat grafting or fat transfer is a two-fold cosmetic procedure that combines liposuction with microinjections. First, Dr. Bachilo will extract excess fat from the harvest site, which may typically be an area such as the abdomen, flanks or inner thighs. Then, this harvested fat is processed and prepared, so that it may be injected through a cannula (blunt needle) into the target area to enhance volume and definition in that area.
What parts of the body can benefit from a Fat transfer?
Fat transfer procedures are an effective way to enhance the following areas of the body, by adding needed volume and definition to these areas, rejuvenating their appearance:
Fat transfer may be used to fill in sunken cheekbones, to reduce the appearance of lines and wrinkles, to enhance the chin, or to simply improve the facial balance and harmony. Additionally, fat transfer to the face improves overall appearance of the skin and provides a natural glow.
Fat may be transferred to the breasts to increase size, volume, and firmness. Fat transfers may be combined with breast implants to achieve a more natural look and feel, while also correcting asymmetry in the breasts, or increasing their volume. While a single fat transfer procedure will not increase the bust by more than one cup size, it can be used to create a more natural-looking breast augmentation for deflated breasts. Multiple sessions of fat transfer can be performed to achieve the desired size.
Fat grafting is the most popular way to enhance the buttocks and the famed Brazilian Butt Lift is performed using the fat grafting technique. Fat transferred to the buttocks is used to enlarge, lift, or sculpt the buttocks to make them look more voluptuous and rounded.
Arms, legs, chest, and abdomen
Fat may be transferred to muscular areas such as the arms, legs, chest, and abdomen to enhance volume and definition in these areas, restoring a more youthful look and feel by enhancing the area’s muscular contour.
Creating a “chiseled” look or a six-pack to the abdomen by combining liposuction and fat grafting in the strategic areas, is also called abdominal etching. However, not everyone is a candidate for this procedure, and Dr. Bachilo will go over your options during your one-on-one consultation.
Areas such as the hands, where loss of volume and thinning of the skin increases with age, may also benefit from fat transfer injections to enhance the volume and plumpness of the skin on the back of the hands, rejuvenating their appearance.
Some women opt for a feminine rejuvenation using fat transfer procedure to enhance the volume and fullness of the vulva (labia majora) or vaginal region to restore a more youthful appearance to the feminine genital area.
How much fat is required for a fat transfer procedure?
The amount of fat required for a fat transfer will depend largely on each individual, the procedure you choose, as well as your body’s natural tendency to absorb some percentage of the fat that is transferred.
The amount of fat that is harvested for each procedure varies considerably, depending on the size and weight of the patient, the patient’s aesthetic goals, and the target area to which the fat will be harvested.
Typically, in order to increase the size of the breasts by a full cup size, Dr. Bachilo would need to harvest about 600-800 cc’s (cubic centimeters) of pure fat. For a Brazilian Butt Lift, about 1000-2000 cc’s of fat (500-1000 cc’s of fat per buttock) will typically be required, however, in many cases, smaller-sized patients may only have about 200cc of fat per side, which will also produce a good result.
How much of the grafted fat survives after a fat transfer?
Once the fat has been prepared and injected into the target area, not all fat cells will survive. About 70-80% of the transferred fat will remain in place, while the remaining 20-30% may be naturally absorbed by the body. This typically happens during the first weeks following your procedure, before the injected fat cells have had a chance to settle in place. Once new blood vessels are formed in the transferred fat cells, the fat will remain in place, and results are permanent. Final results are seen around 3 months post-surgery.
How long does fat grafting last?
The results of fat grafting procedures will naturally vary between patients, depending on such factors as genetics, diet, lifestyle, and which type of procedure you have undergone. The ability for the transferred fat to survive, and hence the duration of your results, may also depend on such factors as the physician’s technique when obtaining the fat, the fat purification process once the fat is harvested, and how the fat is actually transferred to the target area. In spite of this, when performed properly by a certified plastic surgeon, the results of a fat transfer procedure are permanent, as long as you maintain a healthy and balanced weight.
The percentage of transferred fat that your body may absorb will be evident within the first month of your procedure. Any transferred fat that survives beyond that point may be considered permanent. You may require follow-up injections to replace any fat that your body absorbs following the first treatment session.
Harvested fat survives best when it is transferred to areas that have an abundant supply of blood vessels and blood circulation, because the formation of blood vessels is what anchors the fat to the target area. For example, facial fat grafting procedures typically produce very successful results with a very high fat survival rate because the facial region face is filled with blood vessels that nourish the transferred cells and encourage the fat to survive there.
But all fat transfer procedures are not alike, and in some cases, the body may absorb as much as 30% of the transferred fat cells, and patients may need to return for additional treatments to achieve their desired results. Over time, as your body changes, you may also consider additional treatments to maintain a more youthful appearance.
Who is a good candidate for a fat transfer procedure?
During your consultation, Dr. Bachilo will discuss with you your aesthetic goals, as well as your expectations regarding the procedure. Following that, she will examine both the target area and the harvest site to determine if a fat transfer procedure is safe and suitable for you, and if this is the best way to achieve your aesthetic goals.
Most healthy adults are good candidates for a fat transfer procedure. The ideal candidate for a fat transfer procedure:
- Enjoys overall good health
- Has enough excess body fat in the harvest area to transfer to the target area
- Is not currently pregnant or nursing
- Is a non-smoker or willing to quit before the procedure
- Understands what the fat transfer procedure entails
- Has realistic expectations as far as results
Who should perform your fat transfer procedure?
To ensure excellent results, your fat grafting procedure should be performed by a skilled, specialized, and experienced plastic surgeon with established expertise in this technique, such as Dr. Olga Bachilo at Glamour Plastic Surgery and Med Spa, a board-certified plastic surgeon who has performed hundreds of fat transfer procedures in the greater Houston area.
You must also follow your physician’s post-operative instructions during your recovery period in order to ensure optimal and permanent results that will keep you looking youthful for years to come.
To learn more about how to start your journey to a new you by transferring unwanted fat from areas such as your belly, flanks, or thighs to other parts of your body where you need a little extra volume and contour, contact Glamour Plastic Surgery and Med Spa today and schedule your first appointment with Dr. Olga Bachilo. The change you seek is only a click away!