Fat Grafting, also known as fat transfer or fat injection, is an increasingly common cosmetic procedure used for enhancing volume to the face, hands, breasts, and buttocks.
The procedure involves removing unwanted fat commonly found on the abdomen, flanks, hips and thighs, via liposuction, then purifying and transferring it to restore volume in other areas (breast, face, buttocks).
You May be a Candidate for Fat Grafting if You:
- Have facial areas that appear hollowed-out and sunken with shadows, creases and folds.
- Desire a more permanent correction that can be achieved with facial fillers
- Wish to naturally enhance the volume and contour of your breasts and/or buttocks
- Want to rejuvenate your hands
- Want to improve the appearance of certain scars
- Want to fill in depressions, asymmetry or any other contour irregularity of your body
- Are at or near your ideal body weight and maintain a healthy lifestyle
- Have good skin elasticity and tone
- Uses your own (autologous) fat
- Fat is taken from the hips, flanks, thighs, or abdomen, resulting in a slimmer contour
- Transferred fat creates a rejuvenated appearance to the overlying skin
- Results are long lasting and generally feel and look very natural
- Fat grafting is a longer more invasive process compared to dermal fillers
- Depending on the amount of liposuction required, the procedure may require a general anesthetic and require some downtime
- Longevity of the results depend on the body’s response to the transfer
- Augmentations can take multiple sessions to achieve the desired result
Dr. Jonathan Lee (MD, FRCSC) is an experienced, Canadian and New York fellowship-trained Plastic Surgeon based in Calgary. Well-established, he is board certified by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada and specializes in both cosmetic and reconstructive plastic surgery.
What Areas Can be Addressed with Fat Grafting?
- As we age, the face naturally loses volume in the temples, forehead, cheeks, and jawline giving us a hollowed-out and sunken appearance. Fat grafting can be a useful, longer lasting alternative to facial fillers in these areas
- Fat grafting on the face is frequently combined with a facelift and neck lift. This provides a more comprehensive treatment for facial ageing by restoring volume and tightening the skin
- A modest increase in the size of the breast can be achieved through fat grafting, provided you already have a nice breast shape with good skin tone
- Women desire a larger increase in size, or who have laxity in the breast tissue/skin could require breast lift or breast augmentation in conjunction with fat grafting
- Commonly referred to as the Brazilian Butt Lift, fat grafting can add volume and create shape to the area
- Liposuction is used to both harvest the fat which is then re-injected to help sculpt the buttocks
- A minimally invasive way of providing a more youthful appearance to the hands
- Fat grafting can restore volume and decrease the appearance of wrinkles, underlying veins and tendons
The procedure is usually performed under general anesthetic and takes between 1 to 4 hours based on the extent of liposuction and treatment.
Three step process:
2) Purification and Transfer
- A solution containing lidocaine (freezing) and epinephrine is injected into the target donor areas
- Small discrete incisions are made to insert a thin tube (cannula) attached to suction
- The cannula is used to harvest the fat and suction it away from the areas
- The collected fat is processed and purified with a centrifuge or a filtration device
- The purified fat is then transferred into small syringes for re-injecting
- The treatment area is sterilized and a small discrete incision is made
- A needle or cannula is then passed in and out of the target area, carefully injecting a small line of fat into the natural tissue plane
- This process is repeated until the desired result is achieved
Before the Surgery
During your consultation, Dr. Lee will perform a thorough evaluation of the proposed treatment area, and discuss your questions and concerns.
Your body shape, size, and proportions will then be assessed to determine optimal donor sites for liposuction.
Dr. Lee will determine if you are a candidate for fat grafting, and will make a recommendation tailored to your specific goals.
Based on your consultation other treatments may be recommended recommend to deliver optimal results.
Pre-treatment photos will be taken and any potential risks and complications will also be discussed.
Dr. Lee encourages patients to bring in photos of their younger-self or of features that they find attractive. This can help guide the discussion and visualization of expected results.
After the Surgery
- Most patients are able to return home two hours following the surgery
- A supportive compression garment provided to be worn for three weeks following the surgery to reduce swelling and aid in the healing process
- No pressure is to be applied to the grafted areas, and no heavy lifting or strenuous workouts for three weeks
- A follow up will be scheduled one week following the surgery to remove small stitches and ensure proper healing. The next follow ups will occur after three weeks, six weeks, three months and one year.
The majority of patients notice an improvement in the treated areas immediately after surgery, however swelling will often obscure the final result. The remaining swelling will dissipate within three weeks and is typically completely gone after three months.
In order to maintain the results of your surgery, Dr. Lee recommends maintaining a stable weight, with a healthy diet and exercise routine, both before and after your surgery.