What Is Fat Grafting?

By Peter Henderson, MD

Fat grafting is a technique that moves fat from one part of your body to another.  Specifically, it deposits many small droplets of fat across a given area, with the hope that blood vessels will quickly grow into those fat droplets from the surrounding healthy tissue, thereby allowing them to “take root,” and ultimately stay there long-term.

Real patient #1 before and after photos facial fat grafting

The fat can be collected in multiple ways, but far and away the most common way to do so is by performing liposuction at the donor area.  A small incision (about one-quarter of an inch) is made, and then the liposuction cannula, which is essentially a “vacuum wand,” is inserted through the skin opening and into the fatty tissue at that area. It is then passed back and forth many times, collecting a small amount of fat with each pass.  After doing many passes, the amount of fat that has been collected can become a considerable amount. 

Instead of being thrown away as it would be in cosmetic liposuction when performing fat grafting the collected fat is kept sterile, is lightly processed, and then is loaded into multiple small syringes so that it can be injected into the site of interest (which is often the breasts or face).  Most of the fat successfully “takes root,” though usually not all of it.  So, it takes at least a few months to be able to tell for sure what the final result looks like.

Fat grafting is a powerful technique, and when the situation is right, it can be the perfect way to add fat to a particular area in a targeted way, while keeping the surgical risk and recovery time to a minimum. 

Real patient #2 before and after photos facial fat grafting

If you have any questions about fat grafting, especially as it applies to breast cancer reconstruction and breast reshaping, please ask!

Peter Henderson

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