Fat transfer is a popular procedure in which the physician removes fat via liposuction, processes it, and injects the fat into the patient's desired area. Processing the fat used to be a somewhat lengthy process, but now a new product from Cytori, the PureGraft, has sped up fat purification and made fat transfer a quicker process.
"Fat really has not been addressed with contemporary technology," says Dr. Steven Cohen, a plastic surgeon and director of FACESplus in La Jolla, CA. "This is really the first company to come out with new technology that harvests the fat and protects the cells because of the value of re-injecting them. The PureGraft specifically is like a lipo-dialysis unit, so you're putting fat into a bag that filters the fat and produces fat without the fatty acids, without the junk in fat."
Actual Results of Fat Transfer with PureGraft from Dr. Steven Cohen
It's important to the success of the procedure that the fat cells be intact, otherwise the fat won't survive once it's injected. The fat cells that don't survive will die and be flushed out of the body, and the volume will be lost. As Dr. Cohen describes, "Traditional fat transfer has lost a lot of the excitement from patients because patients realize that fat grafts don't survive in many cases, so by purifying this in a standard way, we can ensure that what we're putting in the patient has the optimal chances of surviving and functioning." He says, "We know that they're viable cells because we've done testing on what comes out of that and it's high quality fat, fat with cells that function normally."
With the PureGraft system, the fat is harvested differently than in traditional fat transfer. "When we harvest the cells, we use syringes. We use a 3 mm metal tube, or cannula, and that seems to have a protective effect so that the cells aren't put under a huge amount of pressure from liposuction and so they're more gently handled."
After the fat is removed, it's prepared in a closed, sterile system. "[The cells] have to be cleaned and prepared so we use the PureGraft as a dialysis unit if you will, and it's all in a closed system. If you were to inject fat conventionally, let's say you wanted 250 milliliters, or a cupful of fat, it would take you an hour to prepare that. This takes 10 minutes. So there are a lot of advantages for the surgeon, but for the patient the main advantage is guaranteeing that they're going to have an optimal graft, and that's the first step in having a graft get a blood supply and survive."