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Structural Fat Grafting to Repair Scarring

Scarring can occur anywhere on the body where tissue has been damaged, then healed. Any number of causes – burns, injuries, chicken pox, acne, sun or radiation exposure, and more – can lead to scars on the skin. With scarring can come pain, itching, and discomfort.

One potential repair for scars is structural fat grafting. This procedure harvests fat from one or more areas of the body and places it elsewhere. Structural fat grafting can reduce the appearance of scars on the face and body, including dimpling and deep depressions, resulting in thicker, softer, healthier skin.

Potential benefits of fat grafting for scarred faces and bodies include:

  • Improving the quality of aged and scarred skin
  • Reducing pain and itchiness
  • Healing radiation damage
  • Treating chronic ulcers

Is Structural Fat Grafting for Scar Revision Right for Me?

Structural fat grafting moves fat between different spots on the body. Because there is no risk of rejection or an allergic reaction, the procedure isn’t limited to any specific candidates. The procedure can repair scarring on the face and body that was caused by several different factors.

Before the Procedure

Before undergoing fat grafting, you will meet with your surgical team. If possible, you should bring photos of yourself from before the scarring to your first consultation. This can help the surgical team understand your goals for the procedure.

At your consultation, you will discuss your medical history with your doctor and learn about structural fat grafting. A member of the care team will take photos of your scarred areas.

Prior to the procedure, your doctor will review the photos with you and create a blueprint for your procedure. You can approve or adjust that blueprint. You also will meet with the staff to go over the procedure more fully and get pre-surgery instructions.

Procedure Details

Your surgical team will use colored pens to mark the exact donor and graft areas for your procedure.

Your doctor then will use liposuction to harvest the fat from your body, either from one or multiple areas. The team will use a centrifuge to refine and concentrate the fat, removing unwanted components like blood, oil, and water.

Finally, your doctor will place the fat in its new location, using a sculpting method to make it look smooth.

The surgery can take anywhere from under two hours to five hours, depending on how much fat is harvested and placed.

Type of Anesthesia

The surgery usually takes place with general anesthesia, but local anesthesia with sedation is used in minor procedures.

Recovery from Fat Grafting for Scar Revision

Your recovery from structural fat grafting will depend on how extensive the procedure was. In general, you will experience swelling, bruising, and soreness, with more swelling in donor areas. In more minor cases, recovery can happen quickly, and you will feel normal within days. In others, the swelling, bruising, and soreness can linger.

Bruising generally fades within two to three weeks after surgery. Swelling in graft sites also can fade within two or three weeks. Swelling in the donor areas can stay for up to six months.

Depending on your level of recovery, you likely can return to normal activity within two weeks of the procedure.

Anticipated Results

Although traditional fat grafting is not 100 percent effective, structural fat grafting has shown a higher success rate. However, no studies have fully measured the survival rate of transplanted human fat over a long time.

Using fat to treat scarring instead of temporary fillers carries several benefits. Those include:

  • Permanence of improved area
  • No risk of rejection or allergic reaction
  • Improvement continues over time

Risks of Structural Fat Grafting

Complications from structural fat grafting aren’t common, but they can occur. Side effects and complications include:

  • Bleeding
  • Infections
  • Scarring
  • Irregularities
  • Placing too much or too little fat
  • Swelling
  • Bruising