Locate providers:   

How Does A Fat Transfer Work?


The option of moving your fat from one area of your body to another no longer seems so far-fetched with new technology and techniques available in fat transfers.

Fat is a combination of loose connective tissue and adipocytes, also known as adipose tissue. While it's main function is to store energy, when we don't burn that energy and continue to add to the fat storage, fat can accumulate in places that are not so desirable. It can be removed during liposuction and previously, this fat was discarded as waste but now, with improved techniques of fat transfer, that fat can be harvested and grafted elsewhere with greater success.

brazilian butt lift before and after
Actual Fat Transfer To Buttocks (Brazilian Butt Lift) Before and After Results of Dr. Grant Stevens

"Historically we've done liposuction and thrown the fat in the waste basket," says Los Angeles Fat Transfer doctor Dr. Grant Stevens, "Fat is now a valuable resource and we can reposition it into areas we'd like to see enlarged." Fat transfer or fat grafting has been around for quite some time but several issues, mainly the transferred fat not surviving in the new site, made the procedure for the most part, unsuccessful. Recently however, new technology and techniques have emerged to increase transferred fat survival and patients now have the option of using their own fat in a Breast Augmentation, Buttock Augmentation, or in place of synthetic facial fillers in the face.

"Since 1983, when I performed my first liposuction case, women have been asking me, 'Can't you just take it from here, and put it here?' after their procedure," says Dr. Stevens. "And now, 27 years later, we've done thousands of cases where we take fat and reposition it on the body." According to Dr. Stevens, at his practice, Marina Plastic Surgery Associates, 3 of the most popular places patients request fat to be transferred to are the buttocks, breasts, and face.

While new techniques include better liposuction devices that leave more fat cells intact for transfer, a new fact has come to light the last few years. Fat cells, it appears, are already rich in stem and regenerative cells and when harvested properly, may increase the survival of the transferred stem cells. Whether or not an increase of additional stem cells actually do increase the efficacy of fat transfers remains to be seen.

"We know that adipose-derived stem cells are in the fat that we're transferring," says Dr. Stevens, "There are certain companies that are trying to concentrate the adipose-derived stem cells, notably Cytori. And while we're very interested in working along those lines, it's all experimental at this point. It should be made perfectly clear that all adipose injections we're doing contain an abundance of very active stem cells."

A key topic at the annual meeting of The American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), a joint task force between the ASAPS and the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), released their statement on the use of stem cells in aesthetic surgery. The task force's recognized that while there was great potential for the use of stem cells, the field is still lacking in scientific evidence to proclaim an increased efficacy in fat transfers.