For decades, plastic surgery patients have been asking, "Can you just take my excess fat from here and put it HERE?" Now, fat shifting offers a safe and natural way to transfer fat tissue from one area of the body to another, restoring lost volume and creating firmer, smoother contours. Even better, transferred fat also contains pluripotent germ cells capable of replacing lost or damaged tissue, which helps enhance the body's natural rejuvenation process.
Fat shifting techniques can be applied to a range of procedures, both surgical and non-surgical.
Breast Reconstruction - Because radiation can cause the skin around the breast to shrink or become stiff and inelastic, breast reconstruction after cancer treatment has traditionally focused more on removing damaged skin, and smoothing out contour defects with muscle or other tissue instead of transferred fat. Surgeons were also concerned that transferring fat to reconstructed breasts would make it more difficult to detect recurring cancer afterwards. A recent study, however, revealed that normal breast reduction surgery creates similar challenges in reading mammograms "" and moreover, using transferred fat helps regenerate damaged breast tissue, including an increase in the diminished radiated blood supply. Since this discovery, fat shifting has been used to revive irradiated skin rather than remove it, to smooth contours after a traditional reconstruction, to supplement soft tissue coverage over an implant reconstruction, and even to completely reconstruct a small breast (through several outpatient fat shifting sessions, rather than longer surgery that requires hospitalization).
Breast Augmentation - Patients opting for breast implants sometimes require submuscular placement (behind the chest muscles) to better camouflage the edge of the implant. Fat shifting techniques have become increasingly popular for breast augmentation, however, because they not only leave the pectoralis muscles undisturbed, but also create a more natural, full-breasted appearance that cannot be achieved with implants alone. Known as a Composite Augmentation, the combination of breast augmentation with implants and shifted fat may even let some patients avoid uncomfortable submuscular implant placement altogether by increasing the soft tissue coverage over their subglandular implants (implants placed directly behind the mammary glands but in front of the muscle). Composite Augmentations can also help improve body contouring at the harvest site (which can be the abdomen, back, or thighs, depending on the patients' fat storage tendencies).
Facial Surgery - Since dermal fillers have become more popular, plastic surgeons have focused less on lifting and tightening the face and neck"" which can create an unnatural look "" and more on filling to reverse sagging, smooth out lines, and restore lost volume. When combined with a face or neck lift, fat shifting offers a more natural rejuvenation. The amount of fat tissue needed for facial procedures is small, and can be harvested from other areas on the body, like the lower abdomen or inner thighs. What's more, the long-term rejuvenating effect of fat stem cells hold so much promise that some tissue banking companies now freeze and store aspirated fat for patients to use throughout their lifetime. It's important to remember, however, that shifting fat to the face requires experience, and is never used in procedures to the lips or lower lids eyelids.