Fat as a commodity is a “mixed bag” of sorts. For some, it is the very thing that should be removed. For others it is what is desired. And for most, fat re-distribution is ideal – removing from areas of plenty to transfer to areas in need.
Fat transfer is a surgical procedure that aims to achieve these goals. Fat is harvested through liposuction with smaller cannulas to avoid excessive trauma to the fat itself. The donor site for fat is infiltrated with a wetting solution prior to the harvest to help facilitate the liposuction and reduce bleeding. The fat is then filtered and loaded into syringes. This fat is then re-injected into desired areas with small needles or cannulas. This technique is often referred to a fat micrografting, or layering of this fat in threads of small beads.
Traditionally, fat injections have had mixed results because of a common tendency for resorption – approximately 50 to 60% of any injected fat is eliminated from the body because of incomplete “take.” We now know that grafted materials from our own bodies require an adequate blood supply in order to achieve “take” or survival. Presumably, smaller fat particles will have a greater surface area of contact with the surrounding tissues that have this blood supply, thus improving fat survival. Smaller particle grafting, or micrografting, is what Dr. Ha prefers because of this principle.
Fat can be injected in varying volumes depending on the anatomic site. It is useful as an adjunct to most cosmetic procedures, providing finishing touches in contour. It is particularly useful in providing more fullness in the cheek area and filling in depressed naso-labial folds (deep smile lines) when facelifts are being performed. It can also be utilized as a volume expander, such as in buttock augmentation, or lip augmentation.
Dr. Ha’s technique requires general anesthesia to provide optimal comfort during the fat harvest and injection. Recovery is very quick with most patients returning to activity within days. Bruising can occur at sites of injection and fat harvest, but this usually subsides after a period of 1 to 2 weeks.