710 Park Avenue, New York, NY

Fat Transfer / Fat Grafting

Find soft, youthful fullness again by replenishing areas that have lost volume over time

My sole stipulation was that I look “natural” and the fact that I had cosmetic surgery should not be obvious. Dr Kolker recommended fat transfer to give me a “softer” and more natural appearance. I accepted his professional opinion and agreed to his recommendations without hesitation... Now not only do I receive many compliments on my appearance, I finally look the way I feel. LM

Fat Transfer

As we age, we lose volume. Imagine a baby, brimming with youth, and the full features and soft transitions of the face. As time and gravity exert their effects, these transitions become more pronounced as soft tissue volume slowly dissipates. The transition from face to lip (the nasolabial fold or melolabial fold), the junction of the lower eyelid and cheek (the nasojugal fold, or "tear trough"), and the progression of the jowl to the chin (the marionette line), all tend to become accentuated by shadow as we age. Elsewhere on the face, full cheeks may lose their prominence, and lips may seem to thin and wrinkle. Restoring volume to smooth these transition zones and to refill areas where fullness has been lost is a wonderful solution that minimizes the effects of age, and restores youth and beauty. There are a variety of "fillers" that can be used to replenish lost facial volume: injectable fillers, such as Restylane and Juvederm, and your own tissue filler, fat. Fat cells can be harvested as fat grafts from your own body and injected to smooth wrinkles and other areas in need of volume.

Known as autologous fat transplantation, fat transfer, autologous fat grafts, or mico-lipo injection, fat cells are gently removed from the abdomen, thighs, or buttocks, prepared as fat grafts, and transferred to problem areas of the face or elsewhere. Fat transfer or autologous fat grafts can be used to rejuvenate the face by softly filling folds and wrinkles, to restore volume to your lips, to highlight cheek areas that have become less pronounced, and to fill areas in need virtually anywhere on the body. Fat grafts can be used to refresh tired, aged hands, and can also be used to replenish or add volume to arms, buttocks, and elsewhere. As fat grafts are fat cells from your own body, it is the most natural filler choice. Fat grafts are often performed in conjunction with other procedures, such as liposuction, facelift, blepharoplasty (eyelid lift), and other facial and body plastic surgery procedures.

Ideal fat transfer candidate
Fat transfer advantages
Fat transfer techniques
Autologous fat transfer stats
  • Length: 30 minutes to 3 hours
  • Back to Work: 1 to 3 days (isolated fat grafts, mild), 7 to 14 days (moderate or substantial fat grafts, or fat grafts combined with other cosmetic surgery procedures)
  • Return to Exercise: 4 to 7 days (light cardio), 2 to 3 weeks (more strenuous exercise)

Planning

During your initial consultation with Dr. Kolker, he will thoroughly discuss your desires and expectations for the fat graft procedure with you. He will conduct a thorough examination of your skin and soft tissue relationships, paying particular attention to skin tone, texture, elasticity, depth of folds, wrinkles, or depressions, and the underlying bone or cartilage support. Dr. Kolker will carefully help you to plan the autologous fat graft or fat transfer techniques, and combination of cosmetic surgery and fat graft techniques, that will help you to achieve the most natural and desired result. Dr. Kolker will carefully review the fat graft procedure and other plastic surgery procedures that suit you best. Dr. Kolker will answer all questions that you might have regarding any step of the fat grafting process.

Procedure

The fat cells are removed using a very small cannula, or tube, and are then carefully prepared as fat grafts. The fat grafts are then transferred to into an area of wrinkling or hollowness using a small needle. Because these fat graft cells are your own, they will not be rejected. Although some resorption is possible, fat grafts last considerably longer than most fillers. As the fat grafts will be "accepted" by the tissue to which they are introduced by the local blood supply, the fat grafts are ultimately incorporated as soft, natural tissue that is indistinguishable from the native soft tissue in the area. Fat grafts in New York are performed in Dr. Kolker's office-based surgical suite, accredited by the American Association for the Accreditation of Ambulatory Surgery Facilities (AAAASF). Depending upon your needs, the fat graft procedure takes between 30 minutes (for very mild corrections) and 3 hours (for more substantial volume restorations). When performed as an isolated procedure, fat grafts can be performed under local anesthesia. More often, the fat transfer or autologous fat graft process is combined with another cosmetic surgery procedure, and is performed under light sedation or general anesthesia when indicated

Recovery

Following fat graft procedures, you will go home on the same day with a friend or family member. If the fat grafts are performed as an isolated procedure under local anesthesia, Dr. Kolker suggests taking two or three days before returning to work, however many are able to return to work the following day. When the fat graft procedure is used to correct moderate or substantial lines, folds, or areas of deficiency, or in conjunction with other facial or body contouring procedures, the return to work may range from seven to fourteen days. Swelling is very common after fat transfer or autologous fat grafts, and often resolves after two weeks, however it may take up to 12 weeks for the final results of the fat graft procedure to be evident. Light aerobic activity (elliptical, walking, bicycle) may be resumed as early as four to five days following fat grafts, and more strenuous activity is begun at two to three weeks. Your relationship with Dr. Kolker does not end after the fat graft procedure; he will see you often through the first weeks and months following your fat grafts, and will advise you on all matters in your recovery.

Related procedures

Fat transfers, or autologous fat grafts, are most often performed in conjunction with other cosmetic surgery procedures. Fat transfer is very often performed in conjunction with a facelift or facelift and necklift, as well as with the blepharoplasty or eyelid lift procedure. By adding volume with fat grafts in each of these procedures, it promotes a smooth, natural rejuvenation, and balances the removal of excess skin with the more natural and appropriate restoration of volume to achieve a more youthful, more beautiful result. For those who desire additional plastic surgery or cosmetic surgery enhancements, fat transfer or fat grafts are a logical addition to body contouring procedures, particularly liposuction, as the removal of fat is a part of the process; it is simply the addition of the gentle harvest of fat cells before the definitive body contouring portion of the procedure that enables their preparation as fat grafts, and ultimately the correction of lines or folds or areas of deficiency with the fat grafts.

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