We have a complicated relationship with body fat. We wish to see it disappear from certain areas and regret that it is not more abundant elsewhere. Fat transfer, also known as lipofilling or lipostructure, offers an ideal remodeling solution that is becoming increasingly popular in plastic, aesthetic and reconstructive surgery.
The technique is based on a simple concept. It involves taking fat from an area rich in fatty tissue, such as the stomach, thighs or arms, purifying it, then reinjecting it into a place where the volume is lacking, such as the face, breasts or the buttocks.
The method has already been used for many years. It represents an interesting option for patients who are looking for natural and long-lasting results, without having to resort to fillers or a foreign body.
How is the intervention carried out?
Fat is removed by liposuction from an area of the body where there are fat deposits are located. The abdomen, thighs and hips are the most common donor sites. This step can be done under general anesthesia, as part of a larger intervention, or under local anesthesia with sedation, in the case of facial lipofilling.
The fat is purified by centrifugation. This step is done using a small device specially designed for this purpose. This process removes blood and impurities and preserves only good quality fat cells in maximum concentration.
The fat is reinjected in a targeted manner, using specially designed cannulas to minimize discomfort and the risk of edema. The transplant is done through precisely chosen trajectories. This step requires a thorough understanding of the anatomy and a thorough mastery of injection techniques. The volumizing effect is instantly visible. However, it is necessary to wait some time before obtaining the final result since a portion of the injected fat is reabsorbed during the first weeks following the intervention.
Which areas can be treated by lipofilling?
Face: The technique can be used to fill the depressions in the face, more commonly in the cheekbones, temples, dark circles, nasolabial folds and forehead. It represents a more natural and long-lasting alternative to dermal fillers and is commonly used to optimize the results of a face or eyelid lift. It can also be used to fill in certain marked wrinkles or to correct visible scars.
Body: The Brazilian facelift is undoubtedly the intervention that popularized fat transfer. The procedure consists of reshaping the posterior region by repositioning the fat so as to refine the waist, accentuate the curvature of the lower back and enhance the shape of the buttocks. Fat transfer can also be an interesting solution to revise scars or rejuvenate the hands.
Breasts: Lipofilling is commonly used to enhance breast volume. It is also used to correct irregularities in a reconstruction or to harmonize the results of a breast augmentation.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of this technique?
Natural: Unlike fillers or prostheses, autologous fats (from your own body) do not cause rejection or allergic/immune reactions and do not require eventual replacement.
Minimally invasive: The intervention does not require an incision and does not leave unwanted scars. Some areas can be grafted under local anesthesia. The prior infiltration of an adrenaline-containing solution minimizes bleeding and trauma related to liposuction.
Safe: This technique has been used for many years and is considered safe.
Long-lasting: Once the graft has taken hold, i.e. once the body has metabolized part of the fat cells, the results are long-lasting.
Improves the appearance of the skin. The injection of adipocytes reactivates cell regeneration mechanisms, which helps improve skin texture and rejuvenate the appearance of the skin.
Not everyone is a candidate: It is important to have enough fat to give to qualify for this type of intervention. The amount of fat to be removed depends on the area to be injected and the desired results. Thus, the enhancement of the cheekbones will require much less fat than a breast augmentation or a buttock lift.
Longer process: The fat transfer process is done in several steps. It takes some time to prepare the fat cells before transferring them, compared to that are already ready to be injected or implants that are ready to be placed.
Cost: The initial cost can be considered high. However, it should be remembered that fat transfer is much more durable than dermal fillers and even implants eventually need to be replaced.
Less accuracy: It is difficult to predict volume and end results accurately. The purification process removes a certain percentage of fat, while the body absorbs another amount (30-40%). Several sessions may be required to achieve the desired results.
Limited applications: This method is not recommended for women looking to significantly increase the size of their breasts. Moreover, since fat cells are more “compact” than dermal fillers, they do not necessarily lend themselves to all areas of the face. For example, the injection of dark circles can be particularly delicate due to the thinness of the skin. Lip augmentation by fat transfer is also not indicated.
Fat transfer, despite its “natural” nature, remains a delicate surgical procedure. It must be considered with all the necessary precautions and, above all, must be entrusted to a surgeon (or an experienced surgeon). Lipofilling offers significant advantages, but it is important to have realistic expectations and to understand the limits of this technique. Take the time to do your research, ask to see examples of results and ask all your questions!