By: Dr. Bharath SP
With ample advancements happening at a rapid rate in medical science, the health sector has been one of the most revolutionary industry making optimum use of technological advancement. Medical science is known to provide a new lease of life and one of the most prominent medical procedures to bring about a significant change in a person’s life is plastic surgery. Plastic surgery has been a boon for people in getting back their confidence, the normalcy of life and their identity.
The latest development in plastic surgery has been that of the surgical fat transfer. Also referred to as fat grafting or lipomodelling, it is a cosmetic surgery to move fat from one part of the body, where it is tentatively extra to another part of the body where it is required. Fat has a lot of stem cells, which are also called the precursor cells that help in rejuvenating the damaged tissues.
Liposuction and lipomodelling
With the idea to use one’s own body fat for treatment, fat transfer is pretty much like how aspiration is carried during liposuction. For example, if the patient being treated has extra fat around his stomach or the side fat, that fat can be aspirated and injected during the surgery to that part of the body where it is needed. Plastic surgeons have been using the technique of liposuction on a regular basis for last 30-40 years. However, the technique has evolved overtime. Earlier, the fat that was taken out in liposuction was thrown, but now it is being accounted.
Fat transfer in breast implant
Another example to understand fat transfer further is breast implant or breast augmentation, which has been a widely conducted form of plastic surgery, due to illness and also looks. Mostly these implants are done using silicone, so also referred to as silicone surgeries or silicone implants. An elastomer silicone shell pre-filled with synthetic silicone gel is used for the surgery. However, gradually there is a shift being noticed in these implants where fat from the patient’s body itself is being utilised.
Large volume of fat is infiltrated into the breasts of the patient, giving same results as an augmentation in the implant but without the use of synthetic foreign element in the body. Many a times, patients are unsure about putting silicon inside their body. Fat transfer is a relatively new concept. However, doctors have observed that when patients are explained about fat grafting, they prefer it. This is majorly because it saves them from foreign materials being put inside their body and instead utilises their own body fat.
Facial rejuvenation with fat grafting
The desire to look young, and have a wrinkle-free, glowing skin has been a constant especially with women and more so in the present time. Facial rejuvenation has hence not been an unknown phenomenon. All these years, dermatologists and plastic surgeons have been using fillers and botox in the face to obliterate the wrinkle lines, facial scars, any depression to give that facial fullness. However, instead of a filler (which is an artificial material), surgeons now inject fat.
Fat is also of many types and seeing the trend pick up so fast, research on micro-fat, nano-fat is going on. Out of these, nano-fact, being the latest, is the preferred option used in facial rejuvenation.
Advantages of fat transfer
- The use of one’s own analogous tissue, hence safer
- No fear of foreign particles entering the body
- Known to improve the quality of scars. It is used for depressed areas, post-trauma areas/injuries, scars
- It is also better as it is long lasting. It picks up the muscularity from the body and stays for a longer time. Breast implant on the other hand, generally stays for 10-12 years
- No need to bear the heavy price of implants
- Double benefits sometimes as taking out the undesired fat, e.g. from around the stomach, helps in achieving better body shape too
Earlier, the fat that was removed in surgeries like liposuction was usually just thrown away but now it can be used with promising results. The only challenge that remains for the surgeons is to find fat that can be well harvested and how well the body will take that fat.
Plastic surgery is beyond cosmetic surgery
A big myth that has surrounded the subject of plastic surgery is that it is all about cosmetic surgery, which is not the case. Cosmetic surgery is only one part of the plastic surgery. Plastic surgery is better termed as reconstructive surgery as in most cases post trauma, injury or cancer, replacement of the lost or affected organ is done by its reconstruction, placing back every tissue and provide a near normal appearance, hence holding huge advantages.
The future of fat grafting
The successful results and many benefits of fat transfer can eventually replace implants. Implants are not a rarely occurring instance anymore, they are performed for various places in the body like implants for face and nose, cheeks and chin, silicone breast implants, gluteal augmentation (also called butt lift or Brazilian butt lift), etc. and hence the awareness and better practice of fat transfer can prove another revolutionary moment in medical science.
Fat grafts have increasingly captivated the attention of plastic surgeons not only due to their aesthetic capabilities, but also because of their regenerative properties. The regenerative properties are due to the high concentration of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) resident in the fat tissue. Fat grafting has truly opened new frontiers for plastic surgeons and for other medical specialties.
However, fruitful execution of such advancements requires infrastructure like the one at Columbia Asia Hospital Sarjapur Road, which follows globally benchmarked standards of medical, nursing and operating protocols making it the preferred healthcare destination for patients from around the world. The hospital has capabilities in cosmetic surgery, microvascular surgery, congenital birth defects, wound healing, hand surgery, and face and extremity reconstruction, holding experience in handling both emergency and elective plastic surgeries.
About the author