Fat Transfer Concepts and Patience

Providing the Best in Natural Breast Reconstruction to Orlando & nearby areas of Florida

Thu, 10/30/2014

During consultations with patients about fat transfer, I spend much of my time explaining the concepts of fat grafting, how it works, dispelling myths, and setting expectations. 

Fat transfer or fat grafting, is a process known in surgical terms as a free graft. This means that the fat that is transferred from any part of the body to the breast or elsewhere is not transferred with it's own blood supply, so must acquire blood supply and nourishment from the tissues into which the graft is placed. This is as opposed to grafts like tissue flaps which are moved from one part of the body and their man blood suppy is maintained by a major blood vessel that is moved with the flap. This free graft concept is at the core of both the advantages and disadvantages of fat grafting. Unlike a flap which is never truly a part of the surrounding tissues, a free fat graft actually becomes integrated into, and a part of the tissues into which it is placed. This is the reason that we see some of the amazing benefits of fat transfer such as healing of radiation damaged tissue, restoration of sensation with nerve ingrowth and other true regenerative processes associated with fat transfer. Because fat transfer is a free grafting process, this also limits the amount of fat that can be transferred by injection into the tissues at any one time. This is why fat transfer, particularly for breast reconstruction is often a staged process. Every time a fat transfer process is performed, some fat survives and some fat does not survive and is absorbed. Depending on a number of factors, including technique, the individual patient, the quality of the area to be grafted, fat survival will vary from 35-80%. This does not mean that fat transfer does not work as some have stated, it simply means that fat transfer may require more than one procedure to achieve the desired result. Each procedure will build upon, and add to the previous one, until the final result is achieved.

Patients who choose fat transfer must be prepared to accept this concept. Breast reconstruction patients in particular, must be patient if this is the procedure they choose. On the positive side, each fat transfer is nothing more than a liposuction procedure, followed by reinjection of the grafted fat. These are procedures that have an extremely low risk of complications and have a rapid recovery, when compared to other breast reconstruction procedures.

One of the most important requirements that I impress on my patients, is that patience is required. Anyone who is unwilling to accept that fat transfer is a process that may require stagedd procedures and take some time, is not a good candidate for the procedure. In order to make it easier for patients, we offer fat banking in our Liquid Gold Lipobank® for suitable patients, so that only one liposuction procedure may be required.

4355 Bear Gully Road
Winter Park, FL 32792