Saying goodbye to unwanted fat using the Liposuction procedure is not a new thing, but with current body trends changing thanks to celebrities such as Kim Kardashian and Kylie Jenner influencing women to want a tiny waist, thicker thighs topped off with a larger derrière, women who are not naturally given these features are turning to fat transfer to sculpt their bodies into their version of perfection. Whereas in the past the fat removed by the Liposuction procedure became clinical waist, it is now considered to be ‘liquid gold’ because with the latest fat transfer techniques it can be used to ‘fill out’ other parts of the body.
How Can Fat Transfer help with fighting the ageing process?
As we age we lose fat in our faces and hands. As these areas hollow out from the loss they make us appear older. Below is an image of the same model taken 14 years apart and shows the effect fat loss in her face has had on her appearance in particular her cheeks. Fat that is taken from another part of your body can be injected back into your face in the areas the fat loss has occurred returning them to their former plumpness of youth. This can also be replicated on the back of the hands that are often a tell tale sign of ageing. Have you ever wondered why Madonna is rarely seen without gloves on? It’s because her hands appear more aged than she does and gives her away!
Ask the Surgeon
We talk to Bella Vou’s Aesthetic Fellow Plastic Surgeon Rohit Seth about his recent trip to Milan where he met with the developers of Promeltor, at the Promoitalia wellness research unit. He was shown and trialled the latest developments in liposuction with harvesting of fat and subsequent transfer techniques.
What advancements in fat transfer did you learn whilst in Milan?
There is a great deal of research going into fat transfer and fat harvesting. There are a lot of machines out there and one issue is that if you want to transfer the fat that you harvest, then it needs to be healthy and not damaged. Harvesting the tissue through liposuction is not possible as this will traumatise the fat and it is then harder to transfer this tissue. Harvesting the fat manually, such as the colman fat transfer procedure is more time consuming with very large volumes and can be quite labour intensive.
What I liked about the promeltor was that due to the nature of the equipment, it does not damage the fat and this fat can be transferred to other areas. The promeltor works using ultrasound that emulsifies the fat prior to harvesting. The temperature is low so this does not damage the fat. The fat can then be literally sucked out without risk of damage. This emulsified fat can then be spun down in a centrifuge and not only can you harvest the fat but you can separate the stem cells which can then be used subsequently for mesotherapy.
What does the Liposuction / Fat Transfer procedure involve?
In the procedure I carried out in Milan, the lady was fully awake as the procedure was done under local anaesthetic and I carried out liposuction of her abdomen. The promeltor also helps with tightening by use of the low frequency high intensity ultrasonic waves. This I found very useful as you can define and sculpt with the same machine. The overall effects of the irradiation do not appear immediately after treatment and were most significant by 18 hours following the treatment.
With liposuction generally, depending on how much fat is going to be removed and the area it is being removed from, it can be performed under a local anaesthetic. If it is a very large area the procedure may involve the addition of sedation or a full general anaesthetic.
Which areas of the body can you Fat Transfer to?
Fat can be transferred to any area. There are reconstructive and aesthetic/ cosmetic reasons for transfer of the fat cells. Reconstructive options are commonly used in the breast to add volume or adjust contours. The can be used in the face to address asymmetry following various palsies or strokes which leave the face asymmetrical. Aesthetically, the current trend is to enhance the buttocks and the fat transfer for Brazilian butt-lifts is becoming more and common a request. The advantage of this is that the fat can be harvested from around the buttock and then put into the buttock to add volume. Thereby, contouring and volumization is carried out at the same time.
The harvested fat can also be used in the face in the place of fillers to add volume to the cheeks or lips. The advantage here is that it is your own tissue and once it takes, you would not require repeated injections. You do have to be careful as the fat can behave as fat elsewhere – so one of the major disadvantages is that the fat can increase or decrease as your weight fluctuates.
Why do we lose fat as we age?
Our lifestyle will play a large part in how our body changes over time but there are also predetermined changes related to ageing that we unfortunately can not avoid! How we live may speed or slow down this process.
As we get older, generally after 30 we tend to lose lean tissue. Your muscles, liver, kidney, and other organs may lose some of their cells. Tissue loss reduces the amount of water in your body. Unfortunately, at the same time, the amount of body fat goes up steadily after this age. In relative terms, older people may have almost one third more fat compared to when they were younger.
In addition to this, we all get shorter as we get older – changes related to changes in bones, muscles and joints. We lose almost one-half inch (about 1 centimetre) every 10 years after age 40. This is even more rapid after age 70. Therefore, increasing body fat and changes in body shape can affect your balance and you develop are less lean look.
The changes differ between sexes. Men often gain weight until about age 55, and then begin to lose weight later in life. This is related to the drop in testosterone levels. Women usually gain weight until age 65, and then begin to lose weight. Weight loss later in life occurs partly because fat replaces lean muscle tissue, and fat weighs less than muscle.
Diet and exercise habits can play a large role in a person’s weight changes over their lifetime. Keeping yourself healthy; maintaining your joints and all working parts will keep you healthier and fitter for longer. Much-like the car MOT, our bodies do need this regular servicing and tweaking to keep our engines working for longer and more a their optimum level.
Can fat transfer be a suitable alternative to using Dermal Fillers?
Yes and no. It is suitable in that it is your own tissue and a similar volume is required to achieve the desired effect. The main thing to realise with fat transfer is that up to 50 % of the fat will not survive on transfer. The remainder 50% will survive (take) and will then increase in volume. Therefore, on initial transfer slightly more is transferred to account for this. More than one operation maybe required to achieve the final result, to account for part of the fat being absorbed. Also, as described previously, the fat can increase and decrease in volume as your weight fluctuates. The majority of patients are normally very happy with the results, but these points need to be borne in mind.
Is fat transfer a suitable method for breast enlargement?
Again, yes and no. It works very well to enlarge and symmetrise breasts if there is a discrepancy. This is quite common after breast cancer and subsequent reconstruction. Here, sometimes fat transfer is also incorporated to help adjust or recreate contours. To increase both breasts with fat transfer as an augmentation procedure for cosmetic reasons is also possible. But this would generally involve more than one procedure to slowly build up the tissue. As previously stated, the amount that is transferred would need to take and then subsequently added to if too much was reabsorbed by the body.
It has been shown that adding plasma rich protein (PRP) to the fat is increasing the overall take and this is now more commonly being used to aid the transfer.
If I lose weight, will I lose the transferred fat too?
Yes, that can happen. It is determined by where the fat has been placed and where the fat has been harvested from. Belly fat will act like belly fat and if this is where you generally gain or lose weight then it will act this way wherever it is transplanted.
Can you transfer fat from one body to another?
No. Your own fat can not be transferred to someone else. They will react to it as non-self. Your antibodies will attack cells from someone else and this will reject the fat being transplanted successfully.