MiraBelle Spa

Fat Transfer

Patients Use Own Fat to Fill and Sculpt

From body fat reduction to harvesting fat to enhance other parts of the body, the data shows new cosmetic procedural trends related to the role of fat in body shaping.

"One trend we are seeing with fat involves an increase in fat grafting procedures. Plastic surgeons harvest a patient's unwanted fat from their abdomen using liposuction and then inject it to lift and rejuvenate other areas such as the face, buttock and even the breast," said ASPS President Debra Johnson, MD. "Because the material injected is the patient's own fat the results typically last longer than fillers."


Newer, non-invasive fat reduction and skin tightening procedures are gaining popularity among patients:

-Injection-based procedures that target fat pockets in specific areas such as under the chin, increased 18%

-Non-invasive fat reduction procedures that use special technology to "freeze" fat without surgery increased 5%

-Non-invasive skin tightening procedures that target fat and tighten sagging areas increased 5%


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What is Fat Grafting?

Fat grafting, also referred to as fat transfer or fat injections, is the surgical process by which fat is transferred from one area of the body to another area. The surgical goal is to improve or augment the area where the fat is injected. The technique involves extracting adipose fat by liposuction, processing the fat, and then reinjecting purified fat into the area needing improvement.

Since the 1990's Plastic Surgeons have reliably used fat grafting as a way to improve and enhance the cosmetic appearance of the face, breast, hands, feet, hips, and buttocks. However, more recently, clinicians have documented the therapeutic benefits of fat grafting in the healing of wounds and scars, as well as fat's ability to repair damage to breast tissue following radiation treatment.

Common areas of Fat Grafting

A summary of common fat grafting applications and the associated volumes of fat injected is as follows:

Face (10cc – 100cc, total)

  • Restores youthful appearance by adding volume to hollowed out or wrinkled areas such as the area below the eye and the nasolabial folds
  • Helps repair scars
  • Adds volume to the cheeks to create the appearance of higher cheekbones
  • Improves the texture and appearance of the skin

Breast (25cc-400cc, each breast)

  • Increases the breast size by one or two cup sizes
  • Corrects breast asymmetry
  • Repairs radiation tissue damage and can treat breast implant capsular contractures
  • Helps correct scar deformities from lumpectomy or breast reconstruction

Hips (100cc-300cc, each side)

  • Adds volume to achieve a more feminine profile and better waist-hip ratio

Buttocks (200cc-1300cc+, each cheek)

  • Makes buttocks appear perkier
  • Augments buttocks size (aka Brazilian butt lift)

Hands and Feet (5-10cc, per extremity)

  • Reduces wrinkles and rejuvenates appearance
  • Provides padding for bony feet

Fat grafting process

The process of fat grafting involves three steps:

STEP 1 - Extraction of the fat from the donor area with liposuction

In the first step, fat is extracted from a donor area using liposuction techniques. This is best accomplished by manual methods using thin liposuction cannulas with small holes. Laser or ultrasonic liposuction should not be used for the extraction as it may destroy the fat cells.

STEP 2 - Decanting, centrifugation, and processing of the fat

The fat is then processed with decanting and centrifugation to separate debris, excess fluid, and dead cells from the viable adipose fat cells. An alternate method is to wash the fat with a sterile saline solution. The fat that is discarded are the fat cells which will likely not survive in the graft and they can even create problems for the good cells.

STEP 3 - Reinjection of the purified fat into the area needing improvement

In the final step, the fat is reinjected in small droplets throughout the subcutaneous tissue of the recipient area. This is to ensure good blood supply to every fat droplet so that the fat graft can survive.

The amount of fat injected is measured in cc's and ultimately varies according to patient case specifics and the area of the body where the processed fat is being injected.

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Frequently Asked Questions...

Do fat transfers last?

Some of the fat will be naturally absorbed by the body during the first six weeks after it is injected, but the fat that survives generally continues to exist just like other living tissue in the body. A small amount of fat may continue to resorb over the next six months, but this is not generally noticeable.

What's the recovery time for a fat transfer?

You should expect to be fully recovered around four to six weeks after the procedure has been completed, although some more intense procedures can take up to four months.

How painful is a fat transfer?

Fat injections are generally done using small cannulas, and the procedure is not usually painful. However, the pain varies depending on the part of the body that is being injected. Fat injections to the buttocks appear to be the most painful of all the procedures

Are fat transfers safer than implants?

Fat grafting uses your own body fat to augment the breast, which is the safest and most natural filling material. This means there's no risk for allergic reactions as you're using your own tissue.

How do I prepare for a fat transfer procedure?
  • Stop smoking at least six weeks before the procedure to avoid poor wound healing and scarring.
  • Avoid taking aspirin, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs: Advil, Motrin, Aleve) and vitamins/homeopathic regimens that can increase bleeding.
  • Regardless of the type of procedure to be performed, hydration is very important before and after for safe recovery.
  • Arrange for someone to drive you home after surgery and stay with you for at least the first twenty-four hours unless you and your surgeon have decided on other postoperative recovery options.
What's the recovery time for a fat transfer?

You should expect to be fully recovered around four to six weeks after the procedure has been completed, although some more intense procedures can take up to four months.

When can I exercise after fat transfer?

Exercising before your body is ready can impact the fat transfer process, and, ultimately, the overall BBL results. Patients should wait until cleared by their plastic surgeon before resuming any workout routine or hitting the gym.


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