Liposuction can improve the look of many areas of the body by removing excess skin and fat to provide a more contoured look. However, in some cases, a badly performed procedure can leave behind dents and irregularities.
When this occurs, a process known as structural fat grafting can fix problems caused by liposuction and create a more natural look. To accomplish this, the surgeon uses liposuction to manually harvest fat from one or more areas of your body. The surgeon then will graft the fat into the place on your body with irregularities, sculpting it to create a better-looking result.
Structural fat grafting does require more liposuction, but the surgeon will take care to make sure the procedure goes smoothly.
Is Structural Fat Grafting for Liposuction Revision Right for Me?
Structural fat grafting involves moving fat from one area of the body to another, so there is no one true candidate. In cases of liposuction revision, the ideal candidate is someone who had irregularities or defects left behind by a prior liposuction procedure.
In general, candidates should be in good health and able to withstand anesthesia and the surgical procedure.
Before the Procedure
Before undergoing the procedure to fix problems caused by prior liposuction, you will meet with the surgical team. If feasible, bring photos of your body taken before liposuction or other procedures to your initial consultation. This will help your doctor understand what you want your body’s shape and dimensions to be.
The surgical team will review your medical history with you and will explain our approach to repairing problems from liposuction using fat grafting. A member of the team will take several photos of your body, which will help your doctor create your surgical plan. This plan will detail where fat will be taken from and where it will be placed. Your doctor will explain the procedure and the risks, and you will have a chance to express your concerns or ask for changes.
On the day of the procedure, the surgical team will use colored pens to mark the exact donor and graft areas. They only will mark areas that you agree to be operated on.
The team then will harvest the fat from your body using liposuction. They will either take it from one specific area if there’s enough fat in one location, or from multiple areas. They will avoid taking too much or too little fat from one location and leaving that area with problems.
After harvesting the fat, the surgical team will use a centrifuge to remove unwanted components, including blood, oil, and water. This refines the fat before placing it in its new area.
When grafting the refined and concentrated fat to its new location, the surgical team will sculpt the body to create the best-looking result. The procedure can take anywhere from under two hours to five hours.
Type of Anesthesia
The surgery will most often take place under general anesthesia, but local anesthesia with sedation can be used in minor procedures.
Recovery from Structural Fat Grafting
Your recovery will depend on the extent of your surgery, including the number and size of donor sites and the number of problems corrected. Recovery takes less time if your doctors can harvest your fat from a minimal number of locations.
You will have trouble moving around for the first few days after the procedure. You likely will experience side effects such as bruising, swelling, and soreness, especially in the donor areas. Bruising will last for two to three weeks. While most of the swelling will go down after three weeks, it can take up to six months for it to completely subside.
Many patients can return to work, and to light exercise, within 10 days to two weeks of the procedure. However, some may have to wait longer depending on their soreness. You should not put pressure on the grafted areas for about three weeks after your procedure. After that, you should be able to follow your normal routine.
It will take some time for you to see the results of your revision surgery. The size and shape of the treated areas likely will not change until four to six months after your procedure.
Fat can be volatile tissue, which can cause fat grafting to fail in some cases. However, the structural fat grafting method of harvesting fat from one area of the body, using a centrifuge to remove unwanted components, and placing it another has a higher success rate. No studies have measured the specific survival rate of transplanted human fat over a long time.
Factors that may affect the success of your procedure include:
- Access to donor tissue
- Hormonal status
- Scarring at the graft site
Risks of Structural Fat Grafting
As with any procedure, structural fat grafting carries risks, including:
- Placing too much or too little fat