Patients often jokingly suggest taking fat from an area of excess to fill out another area. But, in fact, liposculpture, which is also known as fat grafting, is exactly that – taking your own fat from one area and injecting it into another area to add or restore fullness. While it has been performed for many years, there have been recent developments that, perhaps, make this technique more predictable, long-lasting and permanent in many cases.
Advances in the science of fat show that adipose (fat) cells contain ‘stem cells’. Stem cells can be transformed into different tissue cells, including cartilage, nerve, and muscle cells. As our scientific understanding of fat cells have become more clear, new techniques have being evaluated that take advance of these newly discovered properties. One technique on the forefront of clinical investigation involves the use of fat grafting in breast reconstruction patients and other patients with cosmetic and reconstructive breast shaping challenges.
What is Liposculpture?
Liposculpture, or fat grafting, is the use of fat as an injectable material to fill out deep wrinkles and folds, to restore a smooth and youthful appearance to aging skin, or to correct other depressed areas that can result from acne scars or even accidents. Since the tissue is from you, there is no risk of allergic reactions, and for most people, there is an adequate supply.
What are some of the most common benefits of Liposculpture?
Fat is an extremely useful filler material. It can effectively fill out deep wrinkles and folds and correct other depressed areas. It is abundant and easily collected through a liposuction procedure. There is no chance of allergic reactions.
Can this procedure be combined with others?
Absolutely. In addition to using liposuction to harvest fat, the procedure also can be used to slim contours. In some cases, doctors may recommend a tummy tuck in Akron, OH for people who have loose muscles and excess skin in the abdominal area. Breast enhancement is another common option for improving total body shape.
What will happen at the initial consultation?
The initial consultation will begin at our office in Akron, Ohio, with a complete medical history and exam. You should tell your doctor if you have any history of scarring, diabetes, tobacco use or autoimmune disease. Click here to Request Your Consultation at Crystal Clinic Plastic Surgeons.
Are you a candidate for liposculpture?
While fat can be injected in many areas, better results occur when fat is injected deeper in the tissues rather than superficial. Therefore, liposculpture is best for correcting the deep folds around the mouth and between the eyes rather for superficial, fine lines in the skin. Fat can be used in greater quantities and is one of the more useful techniques for correcting larger depressions or contouring larger areas.
The areas you wish to have treated will be carefully examined. Possible donor sites-usually the abdomen, thighs or buttock-will be examined. Other options available to you will be discussed along with risks and limitations. The costs of the treatment will be explained. Photographs will be taken.
What are the other treatment options?
Other tissue from your body can be used as filler, such as skin and muscle. However, these tissues cannot be injected like fat. They require an incision to place the material.
Injectable human collagen (Cymetra™) or human collagen sheets (Alloderm™) are options for filling materials. However, the long term survival of these products is less predictable than fat. One advantage is that they are “off the shelf” products and don’t involve another donor site the way fat does.
Restylane™ – Injected into the skin, RESTYLANE™ corrects deep folds and provides fullness to loose soft tissues for 6 – 12 months. These injectable fillers are the newest of the FDA-approved temporary fillers. The material is naturally found in human tissue and is a manufactured, non-animal, stabilized hyaluronic acid gel.
Radiesse™ - Manufactured by Bioform, Inc., Radiesse™ is a long-lasting soft tissue filler currently FDA-approved to treat human vocal cord paralysis. Made from calcium hydroxyapetite, an element found in bone and teeth, Radiesse™ is created in tiny spheres for injection into soft tissue. The spheres gradually dissolve away into bone or fat and are then filled in by collagen cells, subsequently enhancing the correction. Not requiring any skin tests, it can be used to correct deep facial lines, wrinkles or enhance lips. Results are visible immediately and permanent. Unwanted side effects occur more commonly when used in the lips.
Risks and Limitations
Although fat grafting is generally safe and effective, possible side effects of the procedure include:
Absorption of the Fat-Injected fat is an imprecise technique. The fat can be absorbed by the body in variable amounts, generally 10 to 30 percent. Putting the fat deeper in the tissues and using a small needle can minimize absorption. Most absorption occurs during the first year.
Inadequate Fat Injection-Inadequate fat injection or fat absorption will require a second procedure.
Firmness or Lumpiness-Initially, the area injected with fat may be firm or lumpy. Occasionally, this persists.
Overcorrection-There will be some absorption of the fat. To account for this, extra fat is injected in anticipation that it will be absorbed over the next few weeks or months.
Infection-Infection is rare. Antibiotics are used before surgery.
Bruising is expected at the donor area and the area injected. This usually resolves over two weeks.
How is Liposculpture (Fat Grafting) performed?
Our goal at Crystal is to make your surgical experience as easy and comfortable for you as possible. You will be asked to stop smoking and avoid certain vitamins and drugs that can cause bleeding, such as aspirin, ibuprofen and vitamin E. Additional preoperative instructions and prescriptions to be used postoperatively will be provided. For convenience, we recommend that you have your prescriptions filled several days prior to the procedure. Liposculpture is usually performed as an outpatient or in the office. You should arrange for someone to take you home.
Your procedure will be performed in an outpatient surgery center or the office. The doctor will see you before the procedure and place ink marks on the skin. General anesthesia, local anesthesia with IV sedation, or local anesthesia alone can be used, depending on your preference and the areas treated. Antibiotics will be administered at the time of surgery.
The procedure is performed in two stages: removing fat from the donor area (similar to liposuction) and then injecting it at the recipient areas. The procedure takes 1-3 hours.
What can I expect after the Liposculpture?
Following surgery, cold compresses and pain medications are administered to keep you comfortable. You will be permitted to go home after a few hours.
You can expect to be sore for a few days. Swelling and bruising will gradually resolve over two weeks. You may wear makeup the next day and return to work in two to three days. Using cool compresses frequently the first 72 hours will help reduce swelling and bruising. You may resume exercise and sexual activity in three to four days.
You will have prescribed pain medication and your need for this will become less and less over four days.
What is the long-term outcome for most people?
Most patients are satisfied with the results of liposculpture. There will be some absorption and some people may want additional enhancement in six to 12 months.