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Plastic Surgery and Fat Transfer Applications

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The origins of fat grafting date back to more than 100 years ago when a German physician improved the appearance of a patient’s cheek with a fat graft taken from the upper arm. This method utilizes the excess fat removed from one area of the individual’s body to improve volume in other areas. The surplus fat is removed through liposuction, processed, purified, and injected into the site which needs improvement. Today, fat transfer or fat grafting is a popular breast augmentation technique. Autologous fat grafts are also used in the Brazilian butt lift procedure and for facial augmentation.

Facial conditions that can be effectively treated using the fat transfer method are

  • Tear troughs
  • Nasolabial folds
  • Acne and trauma scars
  • Marionette lines (Frown Lines)
  • Sunken cheeks
  • Hollow temples
  • Skin depressions
  • Facial creases and wrinkles

Breast augmentation performed using fat grafting techniques can provide natural looking results, though experts now say that it is more effective as a complement to implants. Ongoing research is focused on exploring better techniques for harvesting and processing fat. Plastic surgeons also say that fat transfer breast augmentation is more suitable for women who do not expect significant bust line improvement.

Fat transfer offers many benefits. Firstly, there is less chance for the body to reject its own tissues. It also helps avoid implant-related complications. Removing surplus fat can also improve the contour of the donor site.

Plastic surgeons also use fat grafts for breast reconstruction after a mastectomy. According to Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery®, the official medical journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), seventy percent of U.S. plastic surgeons have used fat grafting techniques for breast operations out of which most are for breast reconstruction. Three-fourths of the plastic surgeons who performed fat grafting noted that they mostly preferred the abdomen for obtaining fat for the procedure.

In its guiding principles on fat transfer/fat grafts and fat injections, the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) states that studies indicate that the outcome of the procedure depends on the technique and expertise of the plastic surgeon.

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