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Fat Transfer

Fat transfer, also known as fat grafting or fat injections, is a surgical procedure in which your cosmetic surgeon carefully harvests fat cells from one part of your body, then uses those cells to fill out or plump up another part of your body. Traditionally, fat transfers have been used to fill in and soften the edges of a small, localized area of the body. Today plastic surgeons are able to use larger-volume fat transfers instead of artificial implants to enhance the breasts, buttocks or other parts of the body. In the case of breast augmentation, a pre-expansion procedure develops the extra room in the breast prior to injection of fat cells.

Because a fat transfer involves your own fat cells, it is biocompatible and may help eliminate the risk of rejection or allergic reaction. A fat transfer also feels and looks more natural than an artificial implant. However, results are a little more unpredictable than an artificial implant, as half or more of the transferred fat may be absorbed.

Who Is a Good Candidate?
A good candidate for a fat transfer is physically healthy and has realistic expectations. A candidate must also have adequate fat deposits for the graft. A frank discussion with your board-certified plastic surgeon about the best surgery for you is the best place to start.

What to Expect
When your surgeon transfers fat, you may be under twilight or general anesthesia, depending on the procedure(s) you undergo. The donor site is typically the abdomen or thighs, and fat is harvested by liposuction. The fat cells are processed and purified, then injected into the treated area.

It takes three to four days for the first capillaries to reach and supply the newly transplanted fat cells with blood. During this time, up to 60 percent of the transferred fat cells may die. Surgeons generally overfill the treated area to account for this; however, more than one treatment may be required to achieve the best results.

Recovery Information
You will be given specific instructions after surgery, including:

  • How to care for the surgical site
  • Medications to apply or take orally
  • Specific concerns to look for at the surgical site or in your general health
  • When to follow up with your surgeon

Bandages must remain in place for two to three days after the procedure. You may need someone to help with daily activities during your recovery and should take it easy for up to three weeks.

For more information about this cosmetic procedure, visit The American Society of Plastic Surgeons.

Find a Doctor
To locate a board-certified cosmetic surgeon affiliated with Gwinnett Medical Center–Duluth, search the online physician database or call 678-312-5000.