With so many plastic surgery options, deciding which is right for you, your wallet, and your future goals can be tricky. Maybe you’re looking for fuller breasts, a rounder buttock, or a more youthful-looking face. Fat transfers can be a great option if you want to avoid invasive surgeries involving foreign implants that often require general anesthetic.
Fat transfers, also called fat grafting, are cosmetic procedures where fat is removed from one area of your body called a donor site and implanted into another. Our bodies stop producing new fat cells after the age of 18, essentially making fat transfer procedures near permanent.
That said, it’s important to have realistic expectations and understand the steps you can take to ensure long-lasting results from a fat transfer. In this article, we’ll do an in-depth review of the fat transfer procedure to give you the information you need to make an informed decision with your doctor.
When you’re ready to receive exceptional results, work with the plastic surgeons at PureSculpting. We offer free consultations, so you can discuss any questions or concerns you have about fat transfers with a member of our body sculpting team in Jacksonville or Tampa.
How Long Does it Take a Fat Transfer to Settle?
Before your transferred fat cells settle after a fat transfer, your body must establish a blood supply for the new fat cells to survive. This process can vary from person to person, but many see results in four to six weeks. At that point, your swelling should have gone down, and the tissues and fat cells should have settled so that you can start to see what your final results will look like.
How Long Does the Procedure Take?
The length of your fat transfer depends on the amount of fat your doctor is harvesting from the donor site and where you’re transferring it. If, for example, you’re doing a facial fat transfer, the process may take under an hour. Larger fat transfer procedures like buttock augmentation can take up to four hours or more. A body sculpting specialist will review the timeline during your consultation.
What Steps are Involved in the Fat Transfer Procedure?
The first step in a fat transfer involves applying a localized anesthetic to the donor site where the fat will be extracted. This anesthetic helps reduce discomfort before the second step, liposuction, begins.
The second step involves liposuction, where the fat cells are removed. This process can be done through traditional liposuction or through a procedure known as LipoSculpting, where rapid vibration breaks up and separates the fat cell deposits before removal.
The third step purifies the fat cells through decanting and centrifugation so that only healthy fat tissue remains. During this process, you may lose some healthy fat tissue, but your plastic surgeon will account for that when determining how much fat to extract.
The final step is when the fat cells are transferred to the area you want to enhance, like your breasts, buttocks, or face. The amount of fat will depend on your desired goals for fullness and shape.
Different Fat Transfer Procedures
There are several options for fat transfer surgery, but the most common involve areas like the face, breast, and buttocks. Recovery time varies based on the kind of fat transfer you’re getting, the amount of fat you’re transferring, and how well you follow your post-op instructions.
Facial Fat Transfers
Once the fat is extracted from your donor site and purified, your surgeon will place it into small syringes to then transfer it into the areas of the face where you’d like to see more volume. Maybe you’d like fuller cheeks, lips, or nose. If so, a facial fat grafting could be your best route.
Breast Fat Transfers
Breast fat transfers can replace traditional breast augmentation with implants by using the extracted fat to create rounder, fuller breasts based on your goals. Instead of having a saline or silicone implant, which can have a higher risk of infection and comes with some scarring, a fat transfer breast augmentation is a relatively safe and scarless procedure.
Buttocks Fat Transfers
Fat transfers to the buttocks, also known as Brazilian butt lifts, enhance the size and shape of your butt using fat taken from other areas of your body. While implants may work similarly to increase the volume of your butt, they don’t necessarily add shape in the way that fat transfers do. A fat transfer to your buttocks is essentially permanent and involves little to no scarring.
What Are Success Rates of Fat Transfers?
The success rate of your fat transfer depends on the quality of your surgeon and how well you take care of yourself post-op. You can expect about 75 to 80 percent of the injected fat to survive while the remaining amount is naturally metabolized.
How much fat do you need for a fat transfer?
How much fat you’ll need for your fat transfer is based on your desired results. You may need around 1,000 ccs of fat for something like breast augmentation. You’ll need substantially less for a facial fat transfer, typically between 10 and 50 ccs of fat. That’s four cups of fat versus a quarter cup, respectively.
What Can I Do to Help Achieve the Best Results?
While you should always follow your surgeon’s instructions for post-op recovery, there are several steps you can take to ensure the best results after your fat transfer. Fat transfers can change shape, appearance, or texture due to aging, weight gain, or weight loss.
1. Use compression garments
Compression garments are helpful when it comes to smoothing out the skin around the donor site after a fat transfer. These garments can also reduce swelling, and they’re often recommended 24/7 for at least two to three weeks initially and then as needed until you’re fully recovered.
2. Drink lots of water
Hydration is a great way to facilitate establishing the blood supply for the newly transferred fat. The amount of water you drink will expedite your recovery by contributing to quality blood flow.
3. Monitor your posture/how you sit
It’s especially important to watch how you lie down and sit, depending on your type of fat transfer. If you’ve undergone a facial or breast fat transfer, you want to ensure you sleep on your back for the best results. If you’ve gotten a Brazilian butt lift, you should avoid sitting for as long as two weeks to two months, based on what your doctor says.
4. Stay active
Yes, physical activity is crucial for blood flow. That said, you want to avoid strenuous activity for at least a month after your fat transfer. You don’t want to burn off any fat you transferred or alter your results with vigorous or high-intensity exercise.
5. Avoid massages
You may have heard that massaging surgical sites helps reduce scarring, but since fat transfers are largely scar-free, you want to avoid rubbing the area. Massages can disrupt blood flow and encourage fat reabsorption.
6. Try not to lose weight
Maintaining your weight after surgery is the goal. Losing weight can diminish the effects of your fat transfer and alter your results.
Do Fat Transfers Have Long-Term Side Effects?
Fat transfer procedures have minimal long-term side effects. However, you may see some firmness, lumpiness, or asymmetry occur over time, which requires additional surgeries to maintain your desired look. Additionally, fat that doesn’t survive could become firm and cause discomfort at the transfer site, or cysts could form and need to be removed.
What is the Recovery Time After a Fat Transfer?
Fat transfer recovery time differs from patient to patient, but you can typically expect a full recovery within four to six weeks. More complex or intense procedures can take up to four months for you to heal fully. To ensure you’re recovering accordingly, attend all of your follow-up appointments and abide by the post-op instructions your doctor provides.
What Should I Expect in the First Week Post-Op?
You may feel groggy or nauseous immediately after a fat transfer procedure, but these feelings typically go away by the following day. You can expect to see bruising and feel especially sore for the first week. Some patients have reported feeling numb around the donor and transfer sites as well.
If you experience any of the following symptoms, contact your doctor immediately:
- High fever
- Severe nausea or vomiting
- Dizziness or confusion
- Redness or warmth at the donor or transfer site
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Leg swelling or pain
Choose PureSculpting to Get Quality Results
Your results are based on how well you follow your post-op instructions, but they’re also directly tied to the skill of your body sculpting specialist. You don’t want to risk putting yourself in the hands of someone inexperienced, especially since fat transfers are often permanent.
At PureSculpting, we take the time to do a thorough evaluation of your goals so that we can recommend the best procedure for you. We’re a patient-first practice that uses the most innovative technologies to get you the desired results.
Book your free consultation in Jacksonville or Tampa today to start your journey toward the physical goals of your dreams!