Indianapolis Fat Grafting Provider
Dr. Barry Eppley
One of the most exciting new techniques in plastic surgery is that of fat grafting, specifically injectable fat grafting. While the potential use of fat as a filler has been known for over 50 years, solid blocks of fat when transplanted are known to completely reabsorb away. Because of the long-standing use of liposuction, fat is widely available as a non-solid graft material that can be injected. It is this concept of injectable fat grafting that has come to the forefront and provided new treatment options in plastic surgery.
Some equate fat injections to that of synthetic injectable fillers. But beyond their injectability, they are used for entirely different purposes. Fat grafting is for larger volume problems, such as in the face, breast and hands, and is used with the intent for a more permanent volume-enhancing effect.
The biggest reason that fat grafting has become more accepted today is technology. Advances in harvest methods and processing (concentration) are the two main areas of improvement. Less traumatic harvesting methods that enable better quality fat to be obtained creates fat tissue that even looks better. Getting rid of extraneous liquids and debris through centrifugation or less powered purification methods creates a more homogenous injectable material.
But the one thing that has really tipped the balance to wider acceptance and usage of fat grafting is the revelation on stem cells. The realization that high concentrations of stem cells reside in fat (500x greater than in bone marrow) has raised the potential that they can be used for better volume preservation and even promote healing in difficult wounds. The stem cell has been given magical properties even though whether it really has any benefit to a fat injection is far from an established medical fact. Many anecdotal claims are being made about skin quality improvement and anti-aging tissue effects. While the science has yet to provide proven support of these observations, the potential of it has propelled injectable fat transplantation into one of the hottest topics in all of plastic surgery today. Once scoured and held in disrepute by most plastic surgeons, fat grafting has undergone a complete reversal of medical acceptance and the well-known benefits of stem cells are helping it along.
Common uses for injectable fat grafting include:
- facial lipoatrophy correction
- facial aging volume restoration
- lip augmentation
- nasolabial fold reduction
- breast reconstruction
- breast augmentation
- buttock augmentation
- liposuction contour defects
- calf augmentation
- hand rejuvenation
Even though injectable fat grafting is being widely used, there are a lot of important questions with its use that still need to be answered. We need to learn the optimal way of processing fat tissue and better methods for its injectable placement. While a lot of clinical work is being done, much of it lacks long-term outcomes. The good news is that injectable fat grafting is perfectly safe and there is always the contour benefit of the donor harvest site from where it was taken. But it is far from a perfected technique and every patient must understand that injectable fat grafting remains a plastic surgery technique in evolution.
While injection techniques for fat grafting are very popular, there is another older fat grafting method that still has value. The use of dermal-fat grafts, where small pieces of skin with attached fat are implanted, is still useful for very small contour defects. Since dermal-fat grafts require an incision and resultant scar to harvest, their use is more limited. They are useful for augmentation of small depressed scars and contour defects as well as limited areas of facial volume loss.
For more information on what to expect after fat grafting, please peruse our fat grafting results page.
As a trusted cosmetic surgery Indianapolis provider, Dr. Eppley performs a variety of fat extraction procedures, including liposuction and SmartLipo in Indianapolis. He also offers synthetic facial injectables, including dermal fillers and Botox.