Ways to Maximize Fat Survival after Fat Transfer

Apr 17, 2022

MeTime - Ways to Maximize Fat Survival after Fat Transfer

Want a bigger, rounder butt? Unhappy with the size of your breasts? Want to do something about scars or volume loss in your face? Fat transfer could be just what you've been looking for. It is a natural method of contouring and enhancing your face and body. Indeed, fat grafts are one of the most common methods of soft tissue augmentation.

Fat grafting involves placement of fat in areas where you desire more volume. The process starts with liposuction to harvest fat cells. These fat cells come from your own excess fat in areas like the belly, flanks, or thighs. The fat tissue is then processed and the purified fat graft is re-injected into the target area where you want to add volume. This technique is frequently used in facial rejuvenation, scar treatment, natural breast augmentation without implants, and the Brazilian butt lift (BBL) procedure.

But here's the thing. Only a portion of the fat survives in the new location after a fat transfer procedure. The percentage of fat that survives depends on various factors, such as the fat harvesting and fat graft processing methods as well as your surgeon's technique and skill. But there are also things you can do to maximize fat survival after fat transfer surgery.

Join me as I tell you about some of the ways to maximize fat survival after fat transfer.  

How long do fat cells survive after transfer?

Human adipose tissue (fat) is a very delicate tissue. Surgeons can tailor fat grafting techniques and will always use the gentlest techniques to harvest fat with liposuction and reinject it into another area. Even so, approximately 30% of the transferred fat undergoes fat necrosis after autologous fat grafting. In non-sciency language, it means the newly transferred fat does not survive and is reabsorbed by the body in first 6-12 months after the fat transfer.

Does fat grow back after fat transfer?

Fat does not "grow back" after human fat grafting or fat transfer. However, the transferred fat cells that survive beyond 6-12 months are permanent. They remain in their new location and behave like other fatty tissue in the body. So, the transferred fat will respond to weight changes, hormonal fluctuations, etc. If you are going in for a fat transfer procedure, some simple precautions during the recovery period can help to improve fat graft survival.

How do I make sure fat survives after BBL?

Knowing some key fat graft failure points and taking the appropriate precautions can greatly enhance your results from fat transfer procedures. Whether you're having a Brazilian butt lift, facial fat grafting, or breast autologous fat grafting, here are some ways to maximize fat survival after fat transfer:

Wear the right garments

Your doctor may ask you to wear compression garments after your fat transfer procedure. These garments help with the healing process. But beyond anything recommended by your doctor, it's important to wear loose clothes in the treated area to enhance fat graft retention. This is because squeezing or putting pressure on the treated area is the fastest way to kill newly transplanted fat cells. Tight-fitting or restrictive clothing can lead to re-absorption of the transplanted fat tissue, so be sure to wear loose-fitting clothes in the weeks after your fat transfer.

Pay attention to your sleeping position

Keeping pressure off the subcutaneous soft tissue and new fat graft material can lead to improved fat transfer viability, i.e. fat survival. So, if you've had butt augmentation with a BBL, you should sleep face down for at least 2 weeks. If, on the other hand, you've had breast or facial fat grafting procedures, then you should sleep on your back.

Stay off your butt

This one's specifically for folks who've had a Brazilian butt lift or BBL. Pressure on the area could lead to decreased fat graft retention, which could affect your results. For improved fat graft survival, you'll need to avoid sitting on your butt for at least 2 weeks after the fat transfer. This includes no driving.

Put those cigarettes away

Your blood supply brings vital nutrients and oxygen to the newly grafted fat tissue. Chemicals in cigarette smoke affect your blood supply, and consequently, healing and tissue repair. Smoking can slow down the adipose tissue regeneration process by withholding blood supply and nutrients that the transferred fat needs to survive. So, if you are a smoker, it's critical that you refrain from smoking if you want the newly injected fat to survive. This could even be a great opportunity to quit altogether.

Eat healthy fats

Consuming healthy fats, such as walnuts, almonds, extra virgin olive oil, salmon, and avocado as well as an overall healthy diet can help to optimize your fat transfer results. Nutrient-rich foods will give your body everything it needs to optimize the fat graft microenvironment and ensure survival of the newly transferred fat.

Hold off on strenuous exercise

For the first 8 weeks after fat transfer procedures like Brazilian butt lift, natural breast augmentation, and facial fat transfer, you should avoid doing any strenuous or high-impact exercises that could potentially put pressure on the treated area. It is okay to do light exercises such as walking. After a couple of months, the fat tissue grafted will have settled and you can go back to more robust exercise sessions.

Stay hydrated

Staying well hydrated helps with in the healing process and increases the chances of the transferred fat surviving. Remember to stay away from empty calories in soft drinks and avoid excessive caffeine, salt, and sugar. Water is the best way to stay hydrated. You can add lemons or lime to your jug of water if you want some flavor.

Maintain a stable weight

Weight fluctuations after fat transfer surgery can have a significant effect on the results. A large amount of weight loss can lead to volume loss in facial fat transfer patients. Weight gain is less likely to affect facial fat transfer patients but can lead to less satisfactory results after a Brazilian butt lift.

Ask your doctor about platelet-rich plasma

Autologous platelet-rich plasma (PRP) can significantly improve the viability of an autologous fat graft. Meaning, it can lead to improved survival of the fat graft injection. PRP is made from a small sample of your own blood. It contains hundreds of growth factors such as vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). The growth factors in PRP support the newly transferred fat in resisting stress in the first few days after the fat transfer. PRP also helps in the proper arrangement of the newly transferred fat by supporting the surrounding extracellular matrix. Growth factors in PRP promote angiogenesis (formation of new blood vessels). As I mentioned, a healthy blood supply is vital to maximize fat survival after fat transfer surgery. PRP is also believed to improve fat survival because it can promote stem cell proliferation (adipose derived stem cells are cells that can develop into fat cells and other types of cells).

Wrapping up: Improving survival of fat grafts

Everyone is different and there's no way to predict how your body will respond to autologous fat grafts and how long the newly transferred fat will survive. Ultimately, fat graft resorption to some degree is inevitable. But if you follow the above-mentioned ways to maximize fat survival after fat transfer, you can increase your chances of getting the results you wanted.

Interested in finding out more about fat transfer surgery? The MeTime app makes it easy to connect with experienced medical aesthetic professionals in your area. You can chat with experts, share photos, do a video call, and get quotes. If you've got more questions about fat survival after fat transfer, MeTime can give you all the answers.

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