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The Complete Guide to Fat Grafting in 2024

At some point in our life, we’ve had stubborn pockets of fat that we wished would’ve grown somewhere else — it could have benefitted us more in the booty than our mid-waist. Fortunately, plastic surgery has made this possible and it is called fat grafting or fat transfer. Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about fat grafting in 2024.

Fat grafting is the process of surgically transferring fat from one area of the body to another. This helps to replace lost volume, and improve or augment where the fat is injected.

This can be done in different areas such as:

  • Various areas around the face:
  • The breasts
  • The buttock

As the material transferred is natural and from your own body, there is no risk of rejection and a lower risk of infection. The risk of wound infection is relatively low at a rate of about 1-5% only. [1]

What can I expect when I go for fat grafting?

Your first consultation will involve a comprehensive review with your plastic surgeon. During this time, it is important for you to address both your needs and concerns, so that they may best tailor the treatment to you. Your plastic surgeon will also explain what to expect during the procedure and will recommend the ideal area from which to harvest the fat. 

For example, if you intend to do a facial fat graft, Dr Samuel Ho from Allure will evaluate your face and bone structure to discuss the changes you desire, such as where to strategically inject the fat to accentuate parts of your face. 

The fat grafting procedure can take from 1 to 5 hours, depending on which areas of your body the fat is being harvested and grafted. 

Facial fat grafting

Initially, modified minimally-invasive liposuction is carried out, which is the harvesting of fat from the tummy or thighs through pinhole incisions. This is then carefully processed using a strict protocol for grafting to areas of the face such as the cheeks, lips, forehead or temporal areas. 

For fat grafting around the eyes or periorbital fat grafting, a micro fat grafting technique is used. Micro-needle incisions are used to meticulously inject the processed fat around the eyes [2] to correct a sunken appearance, wrinkles, prominent tear trough or lid-cheek lines or dark eye circles. This can be done as a standalone procedure or in combination with a blepharoplasty to achieve a youthful appearance.

Patients are given moderate sedation and will be asleep throughout the procedure.

Breast fat grafting 

Fat grafting can be used to augment the size and symmetry of your breasts. Similar to facial fat grafting, the fat used is first harvested from the patient’s tummy, thighs or buttocks. 

The fat is processed under strict protocols and injected into the breasts. [3] Staged procedures may be required to achieve the desired outcome. This is usually performed 3 months apart. 

What is recovery like?

After the procedure, you will be allowed to go home to rest. There are no visible scars and full recovery is expected in 1 to 2 months. 

Major swelling and bruising should subside between the first and second week and will continue to improve within the next two months. 

Is a fat grafting procedure permanent?

The fat transfer results are permanent. However, not all the fat that has been transferred will survive. The fat that survives the transfer will remain permanently and behave just like the other fat in your body. 

Would I be suitable for a fat grafting procedure?

To be suitable for a fat grafting procedure, certain prerequisites have to be met. One of these is that there should be an ample amount of fat in the harvest site for a successful procedure. This would also be dependent on where you want to transplant the fat to.

Summary

Transferring fat is definitely an option to consider if you want a more permanent form of correction than what is provided by temporary fillers. It can contour the body, fill bodily depressions and rejuvenate your appearance. Always remember to consult your plastic surgeon for a proper assessment and to communicate both your needs and concerns. 

  1. Kim, S. K., Choi, J. A., Kim, M. H., Kim, M. S., & Lee, K. C. (2015). Treatment of the Mycobacterium chelonae Infection after Fat Injection. Archives of plastic surgery42(1), 68–72. https://doi.org/10.5999/aps.2015.42.1.68
  2. Sezgin, B., & Özmen, S. (2018). Fat grafting to the face with adjunctive microneedling: a simple technique with high patient satisfaction. Turkish journal of medical sciences48(3), 592–601. https://doi.org/10.3906/sag-1711-42
  3. Zielins, E. R., Brett, E. A., Longaker, M. T., & Wan, D. C. (2016). Autologous fat grafting: the science behind the surgery. Aesthetic surgery journal36(4), 488-496.