What is Autologous Fat Transfer?
Autologous fat transfer is the removal of ones own fat from one area and the transfer to another area. It can be performed on any area in the body and can be used in combination with many other procedures in the face, breast and body.
What to expect during your consultation?
The success of the consultation depends on your openness and honesty in relation to what troubles you and your expectations of surgery. You will be asked questions about your health, desires and lifestyle. Different operations can be tailored to your needs and the potential outcomes and the risks and complications will be discussed with you. Various types of autologous fat transfer procedures are available. A consultation regarding the risks and limitations of surgery will help you to choose a procedure that will meet with your expectations.
Preparing for autologous fat transfer
Autologous fat transfer may be performed under local or general anaesthetic. Your health is a prime importance and any cosmetic surgery should be postponed if you are unwell for any reason. It is important that if anything changes with your health that you make contact with us. You should ideally stop smoking 6 weeks prior to surgery and stop taking aspirin, anti-inflammatory drugs and herbal supplements before surgery. You may need preoperative tests prior to surgery, which we will arrange if required. You will generally experience discomfort following the surgery and should aim to be off work for at least 1 weeks depending on the type of work you do.
Autologous fat transfer often takes between 1 and 2 hours. Anaesthetic fluid is placed into the area in which fat is to be removed from and an incision that is usually less than 1cm is made overlying or close to the area where the fat needs to be removed. A cannula is used to remove the fat. If body jet liposuction is used to remove the fat then fluid is infiltrated at the same time as the fat is removed. Once the fat has been removed the small incisions are closed with dissolvable stitches. The fat is then prepared in order to make sure the best quality fat can be infiltrated back. The area in which the fat is injected is infiltrated with local anaesthetic fluid and a small incision made (usually 2-3 mm). A postop picture at one week shows the location of the scars that can vary patient to patient. Only the highest quality fat is then injected into the area requiring volume enhancement.
If your surgery is under local anaesthetic you will be able to mobilize straight away. If you require a general anaesthetic you will usually return to the ward within an hour following surgery and you will be encouraged to mobilize. You will not have drains in place and you will be able to drink and eat and mobilize. You will feel swollen and have generalised discomfort that will usually require analgesia. You will usually be able to go home the same day and should keep the wounds dry for the next week. You should arrange for someone to pick you up following surgery and have some support at home when you are discharged. You will be reviewed in clinic and the wounds checked at a week. You will be able to resume light exercises after a week and normal exercise by 1-2 weeks. You should begin massage to the scar once healed.
Risks and Complications
The vast majority of patients are delighted with the procedure although common complaints include numbness, bruising and swelling. Uncommon complications include migration of the fat, irregularilities, infection, haematoma, delayed healing/skin necrosis/skin loss, seroma formation and thickened scar. There are uncommon risks of general anaesthesia such as respiratory / cardiac compromise and deep vein thrombosis. Liposuction removes fat cells and although these cells do not come back other fat cells can occur in the same area. It is unusual to have irregularities although over time these can develop. Your contour will also change and irregularities can become more apparent with fluctuations in weight. The fat that is transferred may be resorbed with time and anywhere between 25-75% of the fat cells will survive. You need to be aware that although some of the fat will remain permanently that it may be necessary to undergo further autologous fat transfer procedures. Autologous fat will only provide a subtle increase in volume as seen by the pictures.