By R. Michael Koch, MD, New York Group for Plastic Surgery
Take fat out of your body where you’d don’t want it. Put it back in where you do want it. What a concept! We can do this with a procedure known by the obvious term of “Fat Transfer.”
A lot of people know about liposuction, the suctioning of fat from targeted areas of the body like the stomach, thighs or hips. But the newer “fat transfer” procedure enables us to preserve and then reinsert your own fat into areas that you’d like to augment or enhance, such as breasts, buttocks or even your face or backs of your hands to replace fat and collagen lost over time.
A “fat transfer procedure” is typically done right in our office’s Operating Room, either under general anesthesia (light sedation similar to the anesthesia you may have had during a colonoscopy) or under local anesthesia with an oral sedative. First, we perform liposuction to extract the fat from areas where you may have excess. The technology we use is called “Aqua lipo” and it’s excellent for fat transfer because it:
- uses high-pressured water streams to gently break up and remove the fat cells so they remain undamaged and pristine, and
- carefully separates the healthy fat from the water used to remove it, so the fat is suitable for transfer back into your body.
Next, within this same surgical procedure, we fill syringes with your preserved fat and inject it into the areas you want to enhance. There is virtually no scarring associated with this fat transfer procedure. The incisions used to remove and inject the fat are typically 2-3 mm in length and fade to the point that they can be difficult to see within 6 months.
Not only is fat transfer an excellent technique in cosmetic surgery, we also use this technology for more medical purposes. For example, women with breast implants after bilateral (double) mastectomy may have issues with asymmetry, or experience contour (shape) irregularities as their breasts settle over time. Fat transfer is an effective way to give them a more balanced, symmetrical look. Also, scars from traumatic injury can often have contour irregularities, correctable with fat transfer. Other medical uses for fat transfer include facial asymmetry correction, or padding “boney” prominences such as the heel or coccyx that have lost their native fat pads, from traumatic injury.
Dr. R. Michael Koch, a board certified plastic and reconstructive surgeon, is assistant professor of Surgery at New York Medical College, Chief of the Microsurgery and Replantation service at the Westchester Medical Center, and a practicing surgeon with the New York Group for Plastic Surgery. Dr. Koch specializes in microsurgical reconstruction, breast surgery and cosmetic surgery. http://www.nygplasticsurgery.com