INTRODUCTION TO FAT TRANSFER
An Introduction to Fat Transfer
Fat transfer is a medical procedure by which the fat content of one part of the body is relocated to another part of the body or face. The Face and Body Place offers a wide variety of fat transfer and related procedures for patients who desire to change one or another aspect of their face and or body.
Fat transfer is performed to enhance the area where the fat is being transferred to and can also be used to sculpt the area where it is removed. Fat transfer is an autologous (“self”) transplant process as opposed to a kidney transplant which is an allograft (“transfer from another person”). Only fat from a particular patient can be used on the self!
When fat transfer is done to the face, for example, only a small amount of fat is needed. A “lipoaspirate” procedure is undertaken to procure the fat as opposed to a liposuction (larger volume) procedure. With a liposuction procedure, a greater volume of fat is potentially removed from areas of the body for sculpting purposes. The fat that is removed can either be disposed of as medical waste or it can be used for body sculpting purposes. Great care is taken with the fat that is removed for fat transfer purposes as this must become living tissue at the site of transfer.
Fat transfer both on the body or face can be used to enhance feature changes as a result of ageing, trauma, scarring, and changes in appearance over time. It is also done for aspirational changes when an individual desire to achieve an appearance. What is critical with aspirational changes using fat transfer is that the desired outcomes and expectations of the patient mirror with the capabilities of both the procedure itself and the clinical team performing the procedure.
To give a few examples, fat transfer can be performed:
- for anti-ageing purposes in the face- volumization and tissue enhancement
- enhancement of body areas such as breasts, buttocks, calves
- for scarring treatments in the face and body including acne and traumatic scars as well as post-surgical scar treatments
- for deformities post-trauma or birth defects in the face and body
- post significant tissue damage from the disease in the face and body
Fat transfer is a procedure with huge benefits both psychological and functional. Since the procedure is effectively a transplant, then the powerful value of the tissue that is being transferred comes to affect the area it is transferred to. This then has the potential for volume enhancement as well as tissue conditioning.
Fat is laden with amongst other components, mature and immature fat cells and Mesenchymal stem cells (AdMSc- Adipose-derived Mesenchymal Stem cells). The stem cells play a critical role in the survival of the transplanted fat as well as regeneration of other tissues in the area of the grafted fat.
The success of fat transfer is critically dependant on key factors including:
- the overall health of the patient
- the condition of the fat to be transplanted (donor site)
- the condition of the area where the fat is transplanted to (recipient site)
- the clinical procedure itself
- the aftercare of the recipient site
At The Face and Body Place, we pride ourselves in a well-established and successful fat transfer service. Our team of clinical and support staff have been offering this service for several years and have refined the process to ensure levels of outcomes that meet patient requirements and expectations.
A consultation with our resident doctor at The Face and Body Place is critical in the evaluation of a patient as a candidate for fat transfer. At the time of consultation, our doctor will assess you both with respect to your prior medical and surgical history as well as your current state of health. You will have the opportunity to discuss at length, for example, the areas of the body that concern you if you desire to combine the procedures of fat transfer and liposuction or if you choose to do fat transfer only and therefore need a minimum amount of fat (as compared with a liposuction procedure where larger volumes of fat are removed from the body)
For example, you may want to reduce the fat content of your abdominal area. You could use some of this fat to enhance facial features. Alternately you may just want to enhance your facial features and not want to reshape your abdominal area entirely. In that case, our resident doctor will show you the areas where smaller amounts of fat can be taken. The consultation is, therefore, a critical part of the service we offer at The Face and Body Place, to establish all the potential options and benefits for you as an individual.
A critical aspect to consider is given that you as a patient have particular expectations of the procedure, then is it medically possible to achieve those outcomes. We at The Face and Body Place will give you a detailed understanding so that you can make an informed and realistic decision about Fat Transfer for you!
Our doctor will also guide you in treatments that can be combined with fat transfer. These depend on the individual patient but can include for example:
- skin treatments that combine fat transfer with laser or mechanical treatments;
- graft enhancing techniques using the components of stem cells in fat (Stromal Vascular Fraction) or blood (Platelet rich plasma)
- hair treatments using different types of fat transfer and extracts of fat (nano fat and stromal vascular fraction)
- cellulite treatments;
- embedded threading procedures;
- scar repair;
- facial or body deformity repair as a result of trauma or birth defect
- enhancement of other areas you might not have considered, with fat transfer
Any patient whose assessment poses risk factors will be advised against the treatment and alternate solutions sought. A couple of examples include pregnancy, patients with a history of liver disease or patients fitted with a pacemaker. Other clinical conditions are assessed individually and are discussed in consultation. If fat transfer is not right for you our doctor will guide you in alternate ways to achieve your desired goals.
What Are the Side Effects / Risks Of The Treatment?
Bruising, swelling and discomfort are some of the side effects of the treatment. We maintain very high standards of medical and nursing care paying careful attention to issues around sterility and cleanliness. Our standards of care reduce the possibility of infection and other risks to the bare minimum. At the time of your consultation and then again at the pre-operative assessment, our doctor and other medical professionals will review these side effects and risks with you in detail.
Postoperative care is a vital part of the success of fat transfer and our clinical team will guide you extensively on how to take care of the treated area.
What Is the Typical Course Of Treatment?
After the initial consultation process and once you have decided to proceed with the fat transfer (with or without liposuction) treatment, our team of medical professionals will arrange a pre-operative consultation for you. At this appointment, you will meet with our doctor and nurse to prepare you for the treatment.
This pre-operative assessment includes an in-depth conversation around preparation for the procedure, the actual procedure itself and the aftercare. We take body measurements (if you are doing liposuction) and photographs of the areas to be treated and answer any questions that you may have at the time. All the necessary administrative and patient consent forms are completed. Our staff will also provide you with a prescription for pre- and post-procedure medications such as antibiotics and pain medication which you will bring with you on the day of the procedure.
Our staff will explain how you should prepare for the procedure and the logistics around your arriving at our facility on the appointed day. Our procedure is performed in a dedicated operating room that is part of an operating complex at a day clinic.
We will explain all that will take place during the procedure as well as in the recovery period afterwards. In addition, we will educate you on how to take care of yourself at home and as you return to your daily life. It is important that we answer any questions or concerns you may have. Our follow-up process is an essential part of the service we offer and critical to ensuring your non- eventful recovery from liposuction.
What Can You / Can’t You Expect from The Treatment?
Fat transfer is an incredible opportunity to revitalize your face and or body! Critical to the success of the treatment is an agreement between you the patient and our doctor on the desired outcomes and expectations. When combined with liposuction, the liposuction treatment is undertaken to redefine those areas of the body that are of concern to you the patient and then some or all of the fat that is removed from areas of the body will be used immediately thereafter for enhancement of other body areas or the face as part of a fat grafting procedure.
We will explain the recovery process to you in detail and guide you as to how to return to daily living. Immediate body responses to fat removal include bruising and swelling and occur to variable degrees in different patients. When small amounts are removed the effects are limited and, in some cases, not even noticeable. The affects will be more significant when a full, liposuction procedure is undertaken.
In the case of face fat transfer you will have micropore tape covering the area for 48 hours post- procedure. If body liposuction is also done, then you will wear post- procedure garments for up to 4 weeks.
At The Face and Body Place we understand the importance of returning to daily living and therefore use these post- procedure standards to ensure a speedy and uneventful recovery. Our medical team will guide you in the amount of time you need to take off from work if needed.
Recovery from fat transfer is dependent on the areas of the face or body that are treated and the total amount that is done. Each patient will respond to the procedure and heal in their own way. We will guide you in this through our monthly post- operative assessment process. Once the recovery has occurred and the necessary healing has taken place there will be a visible improvement in the treated area.
What if I am not based in Johannesburg?
A consultation with our resident doctor is critical in the evaluation of a patient as a candidate for liposuction. If you are unable to come to our offices for an onsite consultation with our doctor, we can also arrange for a virtual consultation (Zoom, Skype, WhatsApp or by telephone). Virtual consultations are available no matter how far away or close you may live.
For Out of Town or international consultations, we are able to advise you on whether or not you are a candidate for liposuction, and if so, we will be able to assist you with all the necessary requirements and costs involved. Furthermore, our administrative team will be able to guide you on your travel and accommodation requirements.
What does Fat transfer cost me?
At the time of our initial consultation we will provide you with a detailed quotation that includes all the anticipated costs. These include:
- the procedure itself and the work performed by our doctor;
- operating facility costs;
- services provided by our anaesthetist:
- ancillary costs such as post procedure garments
In addition, there will be laboratory tests to be done and prescriptions for medications.
Fat transfer is a cosmetic procedure not paid for by medical insurance however where laboratory tests are ordered, or prescriptions written by our doctor these will usually be covered. In rare cases where the procedure is undertaken for post- traumatic or birth defect conditions, certain insurance services may be willing to assist you.
Fat Transfer is a cosmetic procedure not paid for by medical insurance however where laboratory tests are ordered, or prescriptions written by our doctor these will usually be covered.
Our administrative team can also assist with financing options if these are required. Click here for Financing Options through MediFin Finance.
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