Fat transfer or lipomodelling involves harvesting fat from one part of a patient's body and then injecting it into another area to correct dents or concavities. It can be used to provide increased volume in cosmetic breast, trunk, or facial surgery. It can be used to mask congenital anomalies and post-traumatic defects.
Small incisions are made through the skin of a patient's abdomen or upper inner-thighs. Fat is harvested using a 3mm diamter liposuction probe. The fat is then concentrated in the operating theatre using a centrifuge. The excess fluid (including blood, serum, infiltration solution, and oil) is poored away, after which the fat is transferred to numerous small (1-3 cc) syringes to allow injection into the area to be treated.
This operation is usually done under a general anaesthetic, as a day case procedure. Patients may need to wear a compression garment (depending on the area treared) for about 1 month after the procedure. Between 20 and 40 % of the grafted fat is likely to be lost in the weeks and months after surgery, this variance can result in under or over correction of the problem. Some patients will need more than one treatment to achieve their optimal result.
I do not offer fat transfer for lip, face or primary breast augmentation.
Side effects and risks
- Bruising, and swelling are relatively common after fat grafting, both at the donor site, and at the treated area.
- There is a small risk of rippling at the donor site after harvest of the fat (this could be permenant and might be visible). There is a small risk of lumpy scars forming from the wounds used to harvest and inject the fat.
- As with any surgery there is a small risk of bleeding, infection, pain and swelling.
- Sensory changes (usually numbness) have been reported at the donor site and at the treated area. Small areas of lumpiness (calcification) or cyst formation and liquification of the grafted fat (fat necrosis), has been reported at the donor site and the treated area.
- There is a risk of damage to underlying structures (for example damage to a breast implant if fat injection is being used to obscure the edge of an implant after reconstructive surgery).
- If a patient puts-on weight after the surgery, the grafted fat may increase in volume.
- As with any surgery there is a risk of venous thrombosis and pulmonary embolism. Patients who experience a rapid onset of calf pain, or shortness of breath in the weeks after surgery, need rapid assessment (usually best carried out by the emergency department of a local hospital) to exclude the possibility of a deep venous thrombosis (a clot in the calf veins) or a pulmonary embolism (a blood clot obstructing a lung blood vessel).
- The risk of sepsis after breast surgery is extremely low, however, any patient who develops a fever and feels unwell in the days and weeks after surgery, should seek urgent medical assessment and advice. (This could mean attending the emergency department of a local hospital.)
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