Fat fusion. Why do we transfer fat?
Fat transfer surgery known also as fat grafting is a surgical technique when patient’s own fat is harvested from the unwanted areas of the body and transferred to the treatment area. Fat harvest is carried out using liposuction. The obtained fat (lipoaspirate) is then prepared and injected into the desired site. The common areas of fat deficiency include face, breasts, buttocks, and any other sites of acquired contour irregularity.
Although autologous (patient’s own) fat transfer is the most natural and permanent way to enhance or restore one’s deficient tissues, fat take is not entirely predictable and ranges 50-80%. Therefore, while undergoing fat grafting procedures, more than one session of fat transfer may be required to achieve satisfactory result. It Is also important to avoid transferring too much fat in one session to reduce the chance of fat necrosis. The need to perform more than one fat transfer is also dictated by the amount of soft tissue correction to be accomplished; for example, more than one fat grafting session will be needed to reconstruct a breast whereas one time transfer would be adequate to correct contour deficiencies and induce tissue regeneration in the face.
Regenerative properties of fat have been reported based on anecdotal observations of clinical results and numerous experimental studies on Adipose-Derived Stem Cells. Stem cells, though difficult to define and understand, are vital to humans for their regenerative properties. In adult tissues, regenerative cells have the ability to self-renew and give rise to replacement cells for the tissues that are destroyed through aging, disease, or injury. Knowledge relating to how healthy cells replace diseased or damaged cells allows development of cell therapies for aesthetic and reconstructive purposes for the plastic surgeon. Dr. Timek has received Research Grants to investigate the “behavior” of transferred fat cells. She is currently conducting experiments with the scientists at Van Andel Research Institute and Spectrum Health to study take, metabolism, and regenerative properties of fat cells in radiated and non-radiated tissues.