By Dr Leow Aik Ming
A fat grafting or lipofilling is a procedure that involves transferring fat from the areas of excess fat or undesirable areas, such as abdomen or outer thighs, and injecting it into areas that may be lacking in volume, such as face, hands, breasts or buttocks of the same individual. Fat grafting can also be performed as a complement to traditional lifting techniques. Fat grafting alone is not sufficient to remediate the ageing process of the face.
Aesthetic indications for small volume fat grafting can be applied for facial areas that appear creased and hollowed such as sunken cheeks, temporal regions or upper eyelids, deep grooves between the nose and the corners of the mouth (nasolabial fold) or lower eyelids. It is also one of the most common methods used for lip enhancement. In addition, fat grafting can also be used to smooth out all types of irregularities such as those resulting from poorly performed liposuction or injuries. On the other hand, large volume fat grafting can be used for hands rejuvenation and breasts or buttocks augmentation.
Depending upon the volume of fat harvested, treatment for target areas and patient’s preference, fat grafting can be performed either under local or general anaesthesia. Fat grafting involves three main stages:
- Harvesting the fat. Small incisions are made in the skin and a thin cannula is used to suck out the fat (similar to liposuction). The incisions are then closed with stitches and a small dressing placed over them.
- Preparing the fat. Special equipment (centrifuge) is used to quickly spin the fat, to separate it from any blood and other fluids.
- Injecting the fat. A needle and syringe are used to inject small amounts of fat into the treatment area. Fine needles are usually used to inject the fat, hence stitches aren’t usually needed.
Advantages of fat grafting include using your own fat cells rather than a foreign body injectable, the transferred fat will last longer than injectable fillers, besides improving the volume it also enhances blood circulation to the treated areas and produces natural looking aesthetic results.