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What is fat grafting or transfer?

Fat transfer, also known as fat grafting or autologous fat transplantation, involves fat being removed from one part of the body using liposuction, and transference to another part of the body via injection.

This procedure is most commonly used for breast, face, buttock and cheek enhancements, filling hollowing that has occurred due to weight loss or ageing.

How does fat transfer surgery differ from fat removal?

During fat removal, fat cells are suctioned out of the body using liposuction technology. Dr Sharp uses safe, cutting edge liposuction technology which efficiently removes fat without damaging surrounding tissue.

For fat grafting or transfer, this fat is then separated from blood and other liposuction fluids, and injected into other parts of the body, helping to achieve volume in places they desire and giving these parts of their bodies a healthier appearance.

Areas of the body where Dr Sharp transferrs fat to includes breasts, buttocks and face - as well as other areas of the torso and limbs sometimes to reconstruct deficits after trauma or surgery.

Is fat removal through liposuction permanent?

Yes, once fat cells are removed they will not ‘grow back’. But if you gain weight, the remaining fat cells can enlarge, so maintaining an ideal weight after your surgery is imperative for good results.

Will the transferred fat stay there forever or and how long do results last?

After 6-12 weeks you will begin to see your results emerge. If fat survives the first 6 months post surgery, it will be permanent. Remember fat cells can enlarge when you gain weight or shrink when you lose weight, but the number of cells does not change once the fat ‘takes’ to its new home.

During the early healing stage, some of the grafted fat will not survive, and your surgeon will discuss this with you during your pre op consultations. Fat survival rates can vary but it is important to remember that following your post op instructions, abstaining from smoking and adhering to a healthy diet will provide an optimal recovery.

Fat transfer: what to look out for:

  • Liposuction and fat grafting should only be performed by a qualified plastic surgeon; plenty of doctors pose as ‘surgeons’ to attract patients but have not undergone the Australian Medical board-recognised training required to obtain this qualification. Like all surgery, this procedure carries risks and it’s important to entrust your body to a qualified specialist surgeon. See if your doctor is a qualified surgeon by using the surgeon finder here.

Benefits of fat transfer:

  • Fat transfer has become a preferred method for people to achieve body sculpture and volume in desired parts of their body.
  • Fat transfer has become a popular cosmetic treatment because it is considered to be natural, long lasting and versatile
  • Patients sometimes choose to undergo several fat transfer treatments over the course of a few months to obtain the desired results.
  • There is little downtime associated with this procedure and it can be combined with other procedures such as breast augmentation to augment natural looking results.

What parts of the body respond well to fat transfer?

  • Often with ageing, individuals start losing fat from underneath the skin, giving them a tired appearance.
  • Fat transfer or sculpting allows the individual to have a more volumised skin.
  • Fat transfer is helpful for reconstruction purposes, cosmetic purposes and certain types of scars and contour deformities.
  • Fat grafting can be used to restore volume loss in your breast, buttocks and face, as well as improving skin condition on other parts of your body. Dr Sharp also performs fat grafting in conjunction with breast augmentation surgery.

Is fat transfer safe?

When performed under the right conditions by a qualified plastic surgery, fat transfer is considered to be a safe procedure. Fat necrosis and fat embolism are the two most serious complications of fat grafting; please talk to your surgeon about the steps s/he takes to reduce this risk and monitor your post operative recovery.

How is fat transfer performed?

The fat transfer procedure may be performed under local or general anaesthetic depending on the extent of the procedure.

The area from which the fat needs to be removed is known as the donor site. The recipient site is the area where the fat is injected back into the body.

Both donor site and recipient site are cleansed before surgery and numbed with a local anaesthetic. A syringe with a small cannula is then used to extract the fat through a small incision in the donor site.

Once the fat is removed, it is separated from any fluid and re-injected into the recipient site. A pressure dressing is applied to the donor site after the procedure.

What can be expected after fat transfer?

You will have some swelling and bruising; the products we provide in your complimentary post operative care bag will assist with your healing. The area will be tender and pain relief will be prescribed to keep you comfortable.

Tenderness and unusual sensations can be experienced for weeks or even months after the surgery as your nerves regenerate and swelling subsides.

You might be required to wear compression or support garments for 6 weeks after surgery. Avoid strenuous activity for 6 weeks; this includes spa baths and submerging the operative sites in public pools etc to reduce your risk of infection.

Risks and complications

All surgery carries risks but due to the nature of transplanting cells in the body, the outcome of grafting is not as predictable as other cosmetic procedure and therefore complications or unsatisfactory results are sometimes unavoidable. This may necessitate additional surgery. During the pre operative consultation process it’s important that you discuss any history of depression or mental health disorders. If you are unsure whether your history is relevant, please mention it anyway. Although most patients benefit psychologically from the results of elective cosmetic surgery, the effects on mental health can never be predicted if your surgery does not yield the results you were hoping for, and could possibly have a negative influence on your mental health.

You may experience some temporary oozing of fluid; sometimes drains will be placed during surgery and removed 1-3 days after when the oozing has reduced. Discomfort, a burning sensation, redness, swelling or bruising is common but usually well managed with the post operative care tools we provide. Swelling can take months to subside, so patience is vital while your results reveal themselves.

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