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Body Fat Transfer

What Is Fat Transfer?

Fat transfer, sometimes referred to as fat grafting, is a surgical technique that can be used to redistribute fat from one area of the body to another, artistically enhancing a person’s natural curves and contours. First, our plastic surgeon harvests excess fat from an area the patient would like to slim, such as the abdomen, hips, love handles, or thighs. Then the fat is relocated to an area the patient would like to augment, such as the breasts or buttocks. The final result is a more proportionate and symmetrical silhouette.

What Are the Benefits of Body Fat Transfer?

Since body fat transfer utilizes fatty tissue from an area of excess, patients experience the dual advantages of eliminating excess fat and augmenting an area of the body that could benefit from more volume. The procedure can offer many of the same benefits as liposuction while further accentuating their natural body shape by enhancing the contours of the breasts, hips, or buttocks. Some patients also use this fat transfer technique to add volume to the breasts and restore lost volume to the face, hands, and feet for a more youthful appearance.

What Areas Does Liposuction Treat for Fat Transfer?

A major benefit to fat transfer is its ability to contour one area while enhancing another. In order to add enough volume to the target area to achieve a fuller look, fatty tissue must be harvested from a donor site that has excess tissue. The most common areas that liposuction is used to extract fat is the abdomen, flanks, hips, and thighs. Virtually any area the patient would like to contour that has enough tissue to spare can be utilized for fat transfer to another area of the body.

How Does the Body Fat Transfer Procedure Work?

Each body fat transfer procedure is customized to fit the unique needs of the patient. Your plastic surgeon will first gently remove excess fatty tissue from the donor area with liposuction. This extracted fat is then processed and purified before being safely reintroduced to the body at the target area by injection. By injecting fat in small amounts, your plastic surgeon can use his artistic eye to achieve natural-looking results and improve the success rate of the graft. The amount of fat transferred will vary from patient to patient, depending upon their goals. Some body fat transferring procedures require only a local anesthetic, while more extensive procedures may require general anesthesia.

Fat Transfer to Buttocks

While targeted exercises can tone and build up the muscles of the buttocks, not all people are able to achieve the results they desire in the gym. Patients can improve their body proportions and achieve a more shapely, fuller, or firmer backside by transferring excess or unwanted body fat to the buttocks. When body fat transfer is used for buttock augmentation, the procedure is sometimes referred to as a Brazilian butt lift. In the past, silicone implants were required to surgically enhance the shape of the buttocks.

With this innovative fat transfer technique, our patients can attain their cosmetic goals with a procedure that utilizes smaller incisions while also redistributing unwanted fat from another area of the body.

Can I Get Fat Transfer with My Tummy Tuck?

Although a tummy tuck is designed to remove excess skin and tighten loose abdominal muscles, many patients choose to combine this procedure with liposuction to achieve a flatter stomach. Liposuction can target stubborn fat that has proven resistant to diet and exercise, creating a more contoured waistline. The fat that is harvested from liposuction may also be used to perform a supplemental body fat transfer to an area such as the buttocks, enhancing the curves of the silhouette even further.

For patients who wish to have this combination procedure performed, Dr. Zemmel often recommends performing the tummy tuck and liposuction first and waiting several weeks to perform the body fat transfer. When these three procedures are performed all at once, the simultaneous recovery on both sides of the body can be difficult for the patient and potentially affect the final results. During the consultation, Dr. Zemmel will discuss how a treatment plan can be designed to meet your unique needs and expectations.

Are there any Risks Associated with Fat Transfer?

Every surgical procedure entails some risk, but our board-certified plastic surgeon prioritizes patient safety and comfort to minimize any potential complications. With any fat transfer procedure, an average of 30% of the grafted fat is naturally reabsorbed by the body, and our doctor designs each surgical plan in anticipation of this occurrence. Additional risks associated with body fat grafting may include temporary numbness at the injection site, infection, asymmetrical results, uneven skin surface, and hematoma. Your plastic surgeon will thoroughly review all possible risks during the consultation process, allowing you to make a well-informed decision about your health and body.

What Can I Expect During My Recovery from Fat Transfer?

Patients can expect minor postoperative swelling and discomfort at the grafting and donor sites, though these side effects can be easily managed with oral pain medication. Some patients may experience numbness, which typically dissipates within six weeks. In rare cases, numbness may last up to six months. To help minimize the amount of fat that will get absorbed by the body during recovery, Dr. Zemmel may recommend limiting pressure put on the transfer location, such as the breasts or buttocks, by sleeping or sitting in a certain position. Though immediate results will be noticeable, the final results of your body fat grafting procedure can take up to three months.

How Long Do Fat Transfer Results Last?

Over time, part of the transferred fat will gradually break down and be metabolized by the body. The amount that is absorbed will ultimately affect the long-term results of your grafting procedure. Patients typically lose about 30% of the fat that was transfered, but this can vary for each case. Due to the gradual nature of the fat being absorbed, the results from fat transfer may change as time passes. Dr. Zemmel utilizes meticulous technique for harvesting and transferring fat to ensure long-lasting results. Once the fat is able to grow a blood supply, it becomes a permanent, living part of the new location. Depending on the amount of fat that remains, some patients elect to undergo a second body fat grafting procedure to maximize their results.

How Much Does Fat Transfer Cost?

Every fat transfer procedure will be customized depending upon the patient’s needs and goals. Variables that can impact the total cost of a fat transfer include the volume of fat transferred and which area of the body is augmented. For example, since body fat transfer procedures like the Brazilian butt lift typically involve a larger amount of fat to be harvested and transferred, this can cost more than fat transfer to augment the lips.

When comparing the price of fat transfer among different plastic surgeons, remember that the experience of the plastic surgeon and the geographic location of the practice often affect the total as well. To learn how you might benefit from our financing options, please contact a member of our staff today. Third-party lenders such as Prosper Healthcare Lending™ and CareCredit® allow our patients to take advantage of low monthly installment plans with little to no interest.

Other Frequently Asked Questions About Fat Transfer

What Happens if I Lose or Gain Weight After Fat Transfer?

To maintain your results from fat transfer, you should maintain as stable of a weight as possible, though mild fluctuations are not uncommon throughout one’s life. After your fat graft has grown a new blood supply and is no longer being metabolized, the cells that have been transferred will remain. However, if you lose weight, these cells can shrink in size. Conversely, if you gain weight later on, the fat cells will grow. Should you undergo a weight fluctuation that you plan to maintain, Dr. Zemmel can help you achieve the new contouring results you desire, such as with a fat graft removal via liposuction or with an additional grafting procedure to increase fat volume in the area.

Can I Get Fat Transfer if I Don’t Have Enough Tissue for a Graft?

Patients who are thinner and have less fatty tissue overall may not be good candidates for the fat transfer procedure. During your consultation, Dr. Zemmel will provide his recommendation based on your aesthetic goals and the amount of fat you have to spare. If you do not have enough tissue for a graft, he may advise that you consider an alternative solution.

Are There Any Alternatives to Fat Transfer?

If you are not a candidate for fat transfer, or would prefer another solution, Dr. Zemmel can present alternative treatments that can provide a similar outcome. Individuals who do not have enough fat for a transfer are typically more appropriate for an augmentation procedure utilizing a product like breast implants, facial dermal fillers, or another option. Patients who would simply prefer one of these enhancement options but also desire fat reduction in another area of their body may benefit from the addition of a sculpting procedure like liposuction or non-surgical CoolSculpting®.

Contact Richmond Aesthetic Surgery

To learn more information about body fat grafting, or to schedule a consultation with Dr. Zemmel, please contact Richmond Aesthetic Surgery today.