Fat Grafting & Nanofat Injections

Relocating fat from areas it's unwanted to areas where it provides desired volume, has been increasingly popular for years, especially as research has shown that fat contains an abundance of stem cells and healing factors. 

Until recently, the goal was to try to transfer intact, living fat cells and hope that they'd survive, in order to get long-lasting improvement in volume. Because fat cells are larger than most other cells, this necessitated using large diameter cannulas (blunt-tipped needles) to retrieve and inject the fat cells, resulting in significant bruising and tenderness in the areas where the fat was obtained.

Studies now show that most transferred fat cells die, regardless of how carefully they're transferred, but fat is full of stem cells and healing factors, which are activated by injuries such as the injections and substances released by the dying fat cells.

So if it's not the fat cells themselves, but the smaller molecules and cells that are producing the results, do we need to use large cannulas and needles? Exciting studies that were just published in 2017, concluded that emulsified fat ('nanofat"), obtained with small cannulas and/or needles, had as many stem cells and healing factors as full fat samples. What this means is that we can get the benefits of fat rejuvenation with what is literally now a lunch-time treatment.

Grafted, or transplanted fat, can be used to restore youthful facial proportions, enhance features, correct surgical deformities and scars, and because of the stem cells and healing factors it contains, has the added quality of improving the quality of the overlying skin.

Nanofat, because it can be injected through a thin needle near the skin's surface, is especially good for skin or scar rejuvenation.

Transplanting your own fat eliminates the potential complications seen with dermal fillers such as reactions to foreign material or allergies, and the results can potentially last up to ten years or more. Especially for people who require multiple syringes of dermal fillers to achieve their desired results, fat grafting can be a less expensive option, with potentially longer lasting results.  

Why do I not recommend fat transfers for everyone interested in volume replacement?

The duration of volumizing results from a fat transfer are more unpredictable than the results seen with dermal fillers, and if a patient doesn't accept that they may need to have a second fat grafting treatment a few months after the first, I recommend they stay with dermal filler treatments.  Some people maintain the volume that the fat restored for over ten years and some people lose all of their improvement in less than three months. It's impossible to predict who will get the best results with fat grafting, so patients not willing to do a touch-up fat transfer procedure if needed, should probably choose a different treatment option.

What's involved in a fat transfer or nanofat injection? 

People interested in having a fat grafting treatment need to have a consultation (complimentary) with Dr. Elliott first to determine if they're a good candidate, and discuss the procedure. Heavy smokers, patients on anticoagulants (blood thinners), people with poorly controlled medical problems or who have body dysmorphic disorder, are not eligible for the treatment. A minimal amount of fat is harvested unless it's going to be banked as above, so this is not a treatment that will produce body contouring.

On the day of the treatment, Dr. Elliott gently applies anesthetic and then painlessly removes some fat with a microcannula. The fat is washed or emulsified, and then meticulously injected into the areas where volume is desired. 

The area from where the fat was harvested is usually minimally tender for a few days after the procedure, unless larger amounts of fat are obtained for banking. Facial bruising and swelling can vary from none, with nanofat injections, to moderate, with a full fat transfer, varying of course among individuals. Patients can usually return to social and work activities immediately after nanofat injections, and within about three days, with full fat transfers.

What are potential problems or complications with fat transfer?

Like any procedure utilizing injections, complications can include bleeding and bruising at the harvesting or injecting sites, depressions at the site where fat is harvested, and post-treatment infections are a rare but potentially serious complication. As with dermal fillers, over-correction and under-correction can occur. Since transferred fat may last for years, over-correction can only be corrected by removing it surgically.

Because patients are all different in so many ways, fat transfer does not have the same results in everyone. 

Banking Your Liquid Gold Fat For The Future

Because of the "liquid gold" potential in fat for future regenerative or rejuvenating treatments, removing larger quantities of fat and storing them is an excellent choice. Medical trials around the world are revealing the multiple medical uses for healing substances found in fat, even after it's been frozen, and the regenerative cells derived from fat are a type of "bio-insurance" that may be important in treating your future diseases or injuries.  Read more to learn about storing fat for future use.

Fat grafting and nanofat treatment fees range from $650 to $2,700, depending on the type of treatment and the size of the area.

Call our office at 727-571-1923 today or click here to make an appointment for a complimentary initial consultation, to learn if a fat treatment is your best option.

  • Before and after dermal fillers and fat transfer