For many people, the distribution of fat around their body is more important than the actual quantity. We can exercise to reduce the amount of fat that is actually there, but we can’t choose where it disappears from! Subsequently, many women who go on a fitness regime following pregnancy and childbirth may find that they have lost volume from their breasts but struggle to lose it from other areas, such as the lower abdomen or outer thighs. At the same time, men who work out may be able to lose fat from legs, arms and chest but be left with pockets of fat, particularly in the belly and buttocks that are hard to shift.
Adding to these issues is the aging process. Men and women can find that their features begin to sag a little, or that they need a little extra definition elsewhere in the body, and are considering using injectables such as Botox or Radiesse as a way to combat the effects of aging.
A modern way to deal with both these issues takes traditional liposuction and combines it with an advanced technique to produce something called a fat transfer. It does more or less what it says – fat is transferred from a part of the body where it is not wanted, to one where it is needed.
What is Liposuction?
Traditional liposuction is a technique for removing excess fat. Since skin is fairly elastic, small amounts of fat can be removed without any further surgical procedures taking place. However, the larger the amount of fat extracted, the more chance there is that the patient will require complementary procedures.
A common complementary procedure is to have an abdominoplasty at the same time to remove excess skin in the abdomen. This is often part of the so-called “Mommy Makeover” which addresses excess skin and fat in postnatal women who are finding it hard to get back to their pre-pregnancy silhouette with a combination of diet and exercise.
There are a surprising number of ways that the basic idea of inserting a tube and sucking out fat can be enhanced. They all tend to concentrate on making it easier to detach and break down the fat so that it can more easily be removed through a quarter-inch hole via a cannula. For example, ultrasound, lasers, and fluid can all be used to facilitate this process by breaking up the fat and helping to reduce the amount of liquids and blood lost in the process. This is important as less modern techniques required blood transfusions after the procedure had taken place.
What is Fat Transfer?
The fat transfer procedure starts with the removal of fat using a liposuction procedure. Once the fat is removed, there is a cleaning and separation process that takes place to make sure that only healthy, live cells will be returned to the body.
That’s the key idea behind fat transfer – to use the body’s own fat to fill out areas where more volume is required – and it has many advantages over using fillers on their own:
- lower risk of rejection
- breaks down more slowly
- looks and feels more natural
As an aside, it’s important to note that the effects can be permanent, because fat isn’t actively broken down by the body, whereas fillers tend to be as they are essentially composed of foreign matter. On the other hand, the body will still age in the same way as before, so it won’t stabilize the body’s appearance forever.
Depending on the amount of volume that needs to be created, and the amount of fat that has been extracted, it may be necessary to combine the fat with other fillers like Juvederm or Restylane. These fillers will then be broken down by the body, and the effect reduced.
Liposuction and Fat Transfer Side Effects
All surgical procedures come with some side effects. The most obvious will be that the incision needs to heal, and this will result in a small scar. At the same time, the liposuction procedure is relatively well supported by the body and only mild swelling and bruising will normally occur.
There may be some residual numbness, but this should only last a few weeks. By the time the swelling has gone down, the bruising dissipated and pain relief is no longer required, everything should be back to normal.
However, there is a risk of some postoperative weight gain which is brought about by a combination of reduced mobility and the healing process. It is important to follow the surgeon’s postoperative and recovery advice to the letter to minimize the side effects and maximize the longevity of the procedure.
After all, it would be a shame to have liposuction just to put the fat back on again!
The fat transfer procedure has relatively few side effects. Since the fat has been extracted, processed, and re-introduced into the body the main concern will be infection. Aesthetically, the results will also vary from person to person, and side effects can include lumpiness and asymmetry which are not harmful but may be undesirable.
It is key to have a good understanding of the process, and realistic expectations, which are formed in consultation with a skilled cosmetic surgeon. Dr. Vitenas has consistently scored among the highest review ratings on popular cosmetic surgery review sites, and is a respected member of the cosmetic surgery community.
For advice on all aspects of cosmetic surgery including liposuction, with and without fat transfer, and a variety of non-invasive cosmetic surgery procedures, Houston, Texas based Vitenas Cosmetic Surgery can be reached at (281) 484-0088. You can also view Dr. Vitenas’ before and after fat transfer gallery to see the impressive results he has achieved for his patients.