Fat grafting

Fat grafting or fat injections is a surgical operation which essentially involves removing fat from one area of your body and injecting it into a different area to achieve an improvement in volume and shape. It can be used for a variety of conditions such as improving facial volume and shape, augmenting the breasts and correcting asymmetry. The fat that is injected has an average 50% survival rate (30-80% in general) so repeat procedures are usually needed to achieve the desired result however any fat that does survive remains in the area permanently.

What should I expect ?

Fat injections are performed either under a local anaesthetic with sedation or under a general anaesthetic, dependent on the area to be treated and volume of fat that is required. The length of the operation again depends on the area to be treated and the amount of fat to be injected. You will be admitted on the day of your surgery and you can usually go home the same day. The fat is harvested from either your thighs or your tummy through liposuction. This fat is then specially prepared prior to injecting it into the area to be treated. On discharge, you may shower as the dressings that are applied are shower resistant. Most patients recover fully after 2 weeks however strenuous exercise should be avoided for at least 6 weeks and until fully recovered. It is usual to have some bruising and swelling initially which settles over time.

What follow up will I have ?

You will be seen a week after your surgery to ensure that all is healing well and again at 3 months to review the results

What are the risks and complications ?

Fat injections is a routine operation with the vast majority of patients being happy with the results however it is important you understand the potential risks and complications that can occur

Scarring : The fat is harvested with a cannula used for liposuction and is injected with a fine needle. As such, there will be small access incisions made to accommodate these. The incisions are very small and so heal quite well. It is unlikely that the scar will be very noticeable over time however it may remain red and lumpy as it matures

Cysts : Injected fat may form cysts under the skin. Although not dangerous, it can cause concern particularly if it occurs in the breasts and becomes palpable (easily felt). This may prompt you to seek investigations to rule out breast cancer

Volume loss : Injected fat has a 30-80% chance of surviving with an average of 50% of the fat surviving. It is impossible to know how much of the injected fat will survive beforehand

Asymmetry : If the fat injections are performed in opposite sides, there may be some asymmetry or subtle differences between the two

General operation risks : Deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism, the formation of clots in the legs or lungs are rare but can occur with any operation. These are potentially life threatening and so you will be given compression stockings to wear on your legs and blood thinning injections to reduce the risk of this


Society of Surgical Oncology

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