A Complete Guide to Fat Transfer: A Versatile & Natural Way to Enhance Your Body Shape

A Complete Guide

When it comes to stubborn areas of fat, whether that be on our thighs, buttocks, abdomen, or flanks (a.k.a. love handles), it can feel like we’ve tried everything to shift it. From grueling workout regimens that are supposed to reduce fat in specific areas while enhancing others (booty exercises anyone?), to fad diets that leave us feeling hangry all the time. It’s exhausting trying to change your body composition. But what if we told you that there’s a versatile and natural way to enhance your body shape without resorting to drastic measures? It’s called fat transfer, also known as fat grafting or lipofilling, and in this complete guide, we’re going to cover everything you need to know about it.

Woman having fat transfer done at plastic surgeon in Orlando

What Is the Fat Transfer Treatment?  

Fat transfer is a minimally invasive cosmetic procedure that removes fat from one area of the body that may have too much and injects it into another area to improve its contours, shape, and overall volume. If you’ve lost fat due to aging, extensive weight loss, or previous liposuction, fat transfer can help plump up these areas to give you a more youthful appearance. Fat grafting is often used on the face to restore a patient’s natural facial volume, but it can also be used on other areas of the body including your hands, breasts, and buttocks.

How Does the Fat Transfer Treatment Work?

  1. You Will Be Given Anesthesia: for your comfort, anesthesia medication in the form of local, and general is available. If you’re getting the fat transfer treatment on a small area, such as your hands or face, localized anesthesia is a great option, whereas, general anesthesia is better for larger areas.
  2. Excess Fat Is Harvested: the next step involves harvesting the localized fat deposits that you’re unhappy with. This fat is removed through liposuction, either with manual or power-assisted liposuction (PAL). The reason these types of liposuction are used is that thermal-based liposuction, like laser-assisted, doesn’t work well for the fat transfer treatment, as the fat cells become liquefied which makes it non-usable during the injection step. Rather, we want as many fat cells to remain viable, so a gentler liposuction is required. The most common areas that fat is removed from during the harvesting stage are the thighs, hips, knees, upper arms, abdomen, and the underside of the chin.
  3. Then It’s Processed: next, the removed fat cells are placed into a sterile centrifuge. This allows us to purify, process, and separate out the blood and other impurities from the fat itself. Once the fat is in its purest form, it is placed into special syringes for the injection process.
  4. Then It’s Injected: the fat is meticulously injected, using a small needle (cannula), into the area you’d like enhanced. The fatty tissue is carefully threaded within the natural tissue planes, until the fat cells are smoothly layered into a grid of grafted fat. When done in this manner, the result is a natural lift in volume. Since not all grafted fat survives the treatment process, more fat than what is needed, is injected to ensure that you receive the desired outcome.
  5. Closure: any larger incisions made during the fat transfer process will be sutured to close them up, and you’ll have absorbent pads applied to protect your incision sites. Once the swelling and fluid retention subsides, your improved body contour will be apparent.

What Are The Benefits of the Fat Transfer Treatment?

Now that we’ve gone over how the fat transfer treatment works, let’s take a look at some of the benefits:

  • Fat transfer is minimally invasive, so there is little to no scarring.
  • There is very little downtime, and recovery should be simple and relatively quick. The Post-op process is hassle-free, comes with simple post-op instructions and medications.
  • Fat transfers use your own fat cells, so there is no risk of rejection or allergic reactions.
  • The healing process isn’t complicated. The living fat tissue that is grafted into the enhanced area will thrive naturally without the need for chemicals as long as it takes hold and survives.
  • The fat transfer can improve contours for many areas of the body including your face, breasts, hands, hips, buttocks, lips, pectoral muscles, filling in deep-seated wrinkles or scarring, and calf/bicep enhancements.
  • The desired outcome is as natural-looking as you can possibly get. No need for synthetics or gel fillers.
  • Liposuction is a well-established procedure that is safe and effective. The fat transfer procedure can be combined with other cosmetic procedures.
  • You get two problems fixed with one procedure; you remove fat from areas that you don’t want, and gain volume and plump in areas that you do want.

How Effective Is The Treatment Process?

The fat transfer process is quite effective in that 75-80% of the fat that gets grafted into the enhanced area will survive and take hold. The remaining 20-25% will harmlessly and naturally be absorbed and metabolized by the body. In terms of immediate effects, you should notice an improvement directly after the surgery, but the final results will take 6-12 months.

What Is The Recovery Time For Fat Transfer Treatments?

After the fat transfer procedure is complete, you should be able to go home the same-day, within 2-4 hours after treatment. You will be given compression garments/bandages/pads to cover the treatment areas, which will help control the swelling and fluid retention. In terms of recovery time, this varies depending on the location of the areas treated, but on average it takes anywhere from 1-2 weeks to recover initially. In the first few days after the procedure, expect swelling, light bruising, and light discomfort. You should refrain from rigorous exercise for the next 2-3 weeks, and avoid putting pressure on the fat transfer areas for a period of at least 4-6 weeks.

How Long Does The Fat Transfer Treatment Last For?

With a healthy diet, exercise, and proper maintenance, the results from your fat transfer treatment should last you years. However, it’s important to have realistic expectations and understand that the fat transfer process does not prevent the growth of any remaining fatty tissue. This means that your results can change if you gain or lose weight. Plus, it is possible for your body to absorb or disperse the newly added fat tissue over time, requiring additional fat transfer procedures in the future. If you’re interested in fat transfer treatment, and would like to learn more about how fat transfer can help you naturally enhance your body shape, please contact us today to schedule a consultation. We’d be happy to answer any of your questions, and look forward to helping you achieve your aesthetic goals!

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