Fat Transfer Part 3: Your FAQs Answered

plastic surgery chicago

As you may have read in some of my previous blog posts and newsletters, fat transfer is becoming a more popular method of enhancing both the body and the face. This treatment is best used to fill lost volume in areas such as the eyes and lips of the face, or volumizing the breasts in a breast augmentation. Like many patients seeking plastic surgery in Chicago, I’m sure you have a number of questions about the treatment and procedure. Here, I’m answering some of your most frequently asked questions about fat transfer and grafting procedures.

Where are fat grafting procedures done?

Many plastic surgeons offer this as an in-office procedure, so there is no need to go to the hospital.

How many sessions are required to achieve desired results?

For facial procedures, usually one procedure is enough, although some do benefit from a secondary procedure.

To fill in scars or depressions, or for large areas such as the breast, 2-4 sessions may be necessary, spaced out at least 3 months apart.

Some physicians freeze the fat from one session, saying they can use it during successive sessions. Unfortunately, fat does not survive the freezing process. Used after freezing, it has no more permanence than a conventional filler.

How long for each session?

Typically, 15 minutes to two hours is required, depending on the treatment area and the patient’s desired results. However, you can leave the office right after the procedure.

We often give patients oral sedatives to make the procedure less stressful.  If that is the case, a driver will need to take you home.

Does it hurt?

Pain is minimal. We use a local anesthetic, and in many cases we may use “light oral sedation” which will make you very relaxed, and reduce the stress of the procedure.

What about down time?

Post-operative discomfort will last for 1-2 days, until the majority of the swelling goes down. The rest of the swelling may take a week to disappear. We will supply you with pain medications if needed. You can return to normal (light) activity immediately, but your face will not look normal yet. It is best to wait at least a week to resume more strenuous activities.

What about the survival rate of transplanted fat cells?

Not all the cells will survive the transfer procedure, but typically 40-50% will remain long-term. This happens because the fat loses its blood supply when we take it out of your body. We use a very careful technique when we re-inject it to make sure it develops a new blood supply in the new area, but there is always some amount of loss.

Over the years I’ve learned how to add extra fat cells in anticipation of this loss. However, you may need a refresher session after your first round.

How long will my results last?

In the best-case scenario, fat transfers can last several years or even a lifetime.

Does it leave scars?

I have not seen scars from fat grafting, but there can be a tiny scar at the site of liposuction. It’s not visible unless one looks very closely and knows what to look for. I can bypass this issue by removing tiny amounts of fat from several areas.

Is there a preferred age for patients receiving fat transfers?

We have seen beautiful results in all ages. People in their 30s and 40s often look years younger, or much more refreshed.

At some point in the aging process, typically in the late 50s and 60s, facial deflation has progressed to the point where fat grafting is best combined with a surgical procedure, such as a lower facelift or neck lift.

A Consultation Will Tell You More

Every patient is different, and the best approach is an individualized one factoring in goals and expectations with achievable results, down time, and other options. I always want to under-promise and strive to over-deliver.

If you are interested in speaking more with me in person, request a consultation online, or call us at (312) 788-2560. I would love to meet with you in person to determine if you are a candidate for the treatment and answer any questions you have.

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