Understanding Fat: The Many Uses of Fat Grafting

Using a patient’s own fat in cosmetic surgery is a technique that plastic surgeons have used for years, but advanced technology has made fat grafting more popular than ever. At our Austin plastic surgery practice, our team of plastic surgeons uses fat grafting (also called fat transfer) in procedures such as facelifts, breast augmentation, and Brazilian butt lifts.

The fat grafting technique involves using liposuction to carefully harvest fat from one area of the body where it’s unwanted and then re-injecting into the treatment area. The 3-step process includes:

  • Liposuction: The abdomen, love handles, and thighs are typical donor sites where our plastic surgeons extract fatty tissue using tumescent liposuction techniques. The amount of fat needed depends on the procedure being performed. A Brazilian butt lift, for example, requires more fat than is needed for facial fat grafting.
  • Purification: After removing the fat, we process the tissue in a centrifuge that separates the fat cells from impurities.
  • Re-injection: Our surgeons use cannulas (small, thin, metal tubes) that are specially designed for fat transfer procedures.

Fat grafting is a safe and time-tested technique that creates attractive and natural-looking results when performed by a highly trained plastic surgeon.

Fat Grafting Procedures

Fat grafting can be used alone or to complement other procedures. Some of the ways we use fat grafting at Synergy Plastic Surgery include:

  • Facial fat grafting: Using fat as an alternative to synthetic dermal fillers such as JUVÉDERM® or Restylane® can produce long-lasting results that look natural. Some of the most common areas for facial fat grafting include the area under the eyes and the cheeks, the lips, and around the nose and mouth. Fat can also be used as part of a facelift to help create attractive contours.
  • Brazilian butt lift: The increased popularity of this procedure in recent years has introduced more patients to fat grafting. A Brazilian butt lift enhances the roundness of the buttocks using the patient’s own fat. (A surgical butt lift, on the other hand, is a body contouring procedure that removes excess skin to create elevated, tighter buttocks.) You can see results from this procedure in our before-and-after photo gallery.
  • Breast augmentation: Fat grafting can enhance patients’ breasts with or without implants. When used with implants, fat grafting can create a softer, more natural look and feel, especially if implants are placed above the pectoral muscles. Fat transfer breast augmentation without implants (sometimes called “natural breast augmentation”) is a relatively new technique and is appropriate only for patients who want a modest increase in size. Fat looks and feels more natural than most implants, but the results can be unpredictable because not all of the transferred fat survives the grafting process. Learn more about recovering from breast augmentation in our related blog post.
  • Breast lift: Fat grafting can help create more attractive breast contours as part of breast lift surgery.

The percentage of fat cells that survive the transfer process varies, but the improved purification methods and better injection techniques have helped increase the overall success rate. Healthy fat cells that aren’t absorbed by the body produce long-lasting results when used in fat grafting procedures.

If you’d like to learn more about using fat grafting to help achieve your desired look, request a consultation or call our office at (512) 244-1439.

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