Body fat transfers are most often performed by a board-certified plastic surgeon. The location of the procedure may be the doctor's office, outpatient center, or hospital. The procedure may take up to two hours. The procedure is often performed under "twilight sedation," which includes a combination of medications that make you feel sleepy and numbed, but awake. The procedure may be performed under general anesthesia, while you are asleep. You should discuss the type of anesthesia with your doctor. The waiting time before returning home depends on the amount of fat that is transferred.
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The procedure varies depending upon the technique used by the doctor and the area to be treated. The most commonly treated locations are the buttocks, chest, calf, and bicep or tricep muscles. The procedure can be described in three steps:
Antiseptic is applied to two areas:
1) the location where the fat will be removed and
2) the treated area, where the fat will be injected.
The fat cells are typically removed from the buttocks, stomach, or thighs using liposuction. The doctor uses a cannula (a thin hollow tube) that is connected to a vacuum device to remove fat cells.
After the fat cells are suctioned by the cannula, the fat cells are processed and purified by the doctor. In some cases, the doctor will use a technique that spins the fat cells before the cells are injected beneath the skin. Some doctors do not spin fat. Different doctors may use different techniques of spinning fat. A bandage may be applied.
It takes three to four days for the first capillaries in the body to reach the transplanted fat cells. Unfortunately, during those three to four days, up to 60 percent of the transferred fat cells will die. For this reason, doctors will overfill the treated area to allow for the dissipation of transferred fat cells. Since many of the transferred fat cells may eventually be reabsorbed in the body, the results may be unpredictable. The results of fat transfers may last about three years. Many cases result in the transfer lasting a lifetime. Each time the procedure is repeated, more fat is accumulated in the treated area. This tends to offer longer-lasting results.
After Fat Transfer Surgery
After the procedure, you may need someone to drive you home. You may also need someone to help you with daily living activities during the time specified by your doctor. The doctor will instruct you to limit activity, including exercise, for up to three weeks after the procedure. Within two to three days after the procedure, the bandage is removed by the doctor. Patients can begin to shower after the bandage is removed.
There is typically some swelling and some bruising. The swelling may last for several weeks. However, bruising will subside within a few days. The treated area may be reddened within the first 48 hours. Discomfort can be managed with oral medications. Scabs may form at injection site as well. Unmanageable pain or any symptoms that are progressive or abnormal should be reported to the doctor immediately. Normal activities can often be resumed almost immediately, except that you are advised to stay out of the sun. Patients should notice a marked improvement after the procedure. However, final results may not be evident for several months or longer.
Complications and Risks
Complications are possible with any medical procedure, but complications from fat transfers are infrequent. The most common, but infrequent, complications of fat transfers include uneven skin texture, infection, abscess, excessive bleeding, or scarring. If fat is injected into two or more areas, patients may have asymmetry whereby the fat appears uneven in different areas. Treatment for complications can range from oral medications to surgical intervention, depending upon the extent of the complication. Following the doctor's instructions before and after the procedure can reduce the risk of complications.
Consult a Qualified Plastic Surgeon
Talk to a qualified doctor about your goals and the treatment options available for your condition. A qualified doctor will help ensure the treatment is appropriate for your condition, increase the odds of success, and reduce the risk of complications.
It's important to choose a board-certified plastic surgeon from the American Board of Plastic Surgery. Board certification may not always guarantee the best results; however, board certification does require specific and rigorous surgical education and training. There are only a select number of doctors who perform the procedure. Choose a surgeon who has extensive, specific experience in the body fat transfer that you are interested in, as well as expertise in all areas of body fat transfer.
Dr. Brian Evans is a plastic surgeon in West Hills, California and is affiliated with multiple hospitals in the area, including Cincinnati Veterans Affairs Medical Center and San Joaquin Community Hospital.
Call (818) 676-4001 today to schedule your consultation with Dr. Brian Evans. He has assembled a team of plastic surgeons and skin care specialists to perform procedures of cosmetic surgery and body contouring in Thousand Oaks to provide patients with comprehensive aesthetic care.
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