For patients needing greater volume filler augmentation an alternative is to use one’s own body’s fat to fill and sculpt tissues. This technique is variously called Lipofilling, Liposculpture, Fat Grafting and Fat Transfer
Lipofilling is founded on the principle that the fat cells must be harvested in a careful way to avoid fat cell damage, and then reinjected in multiple small quantities of fat at the new site. In order to build up the new area these small ‘parcels’ of fat are injected in multiple layers of criss-crossed tunnels, in such a way that each small parcel of fat is able to acquire new nourishing blood vessels, and so survive.
The fat is harvested by gentle liposuction techniques, and is usually taken from the lower abdomen, thighs or bottom. Following separation of the fat cells from other tissue fluids, either by natural separation or using a centrifuge, the fat cells are re-injected into the chosen area using specially designed blunt needles. More than one procedure may therefore be required to achieve the desired contour.
Lipofilling has found a valuable role in both aesthetic and reconstructive plastic surgery, due to the ability to ‘fill-out’ both small and large volume deficiencies. Larger volume defects will require several procedures, each time building upon the previous layers.
In aesthetic surgery, multilayer lipofilling has a valuable role in improving facial contours, in particular in augmenting the lips and cheeks. It can however be used in many body sites, and can be used in conjunction with liposuction, in such a way that the body can be ‘sculpted’ by removing fat in one area and adding it elsewhere.
Although most people will prefer to stay overnight after surgery, many patients are able to go home the same day as surgery after lipofilling.
Although there is some minor discomfort after liposculpture, it is not usually painful. There may be some bruising and swelling of the donor and recipient sites which most often is settled by two to three weeks.
The fat cells that successfully survive the fat grafting process will remain forever.