Fat Transfer Surgery
A fat transfer surgery is composed of two separate, individual surgeries: one to remove the fat from a donor site, and one to implant the fat into the second, recipient site. Both procedures are usually performed on the same day, although in some cases the fat may be removed and frozen, then thawed and implanted at a later date (especially in the cases when touch-ups or revisions are needed).
The following page will walk you through a typical fat transfer surgery, as well as advise you about what steps to take in order to prepare for it.
Preparing For A Fat Transfer
The first step toward getting a fat transfer is to set up an initial consultation with a cosmetic surgeon in your area. This meeting between you and the doctor will provide you with an opportunity to meet him or her face to face, learn a little more about the procedure, and ask any questions you might have. For the doctor, it is a chance to work with you to find out what changes you want to make to your face, breasts or body, how you hope to look in the future, and also to find out whether or not your general state of health is good enough to withstand the surgery.
The consultation also gives the doctor a chance to counsel you about what you should and should not do in the weeks leading up to your surgery. Make sure you take careful notes when he or she goes over this information with you, as it is critical to the success of a fat transfer procedure. After you get home, and before the surgery, follow all of your doctor's directions exactly, even if they seem unnecessary to you. Remember, your doctor is in the business of keeping you safe, and he or she knows a lot more about this procedure than you do.
Some of the things the doctor may ask you to do include: cutting down on your alcohol intake (or even cutting it out entirely for the last week or two), getting moderate amounts of exercise, arranging some time off of work for recovery, and cutting out certain medications or supplements that may interfere with your surgery or the recovery afterward. In addition, if you are a smoker, the surgeon will probably ask you to quit. Quitting smoking is tremendously difficult, but smokers have a vastly increased chance of developing severe or even life-threatening complications after surgeries. The risk to smokers is so serious that many doctors simply refuse to operate on smokers unless the procedure is medically necessary. If it helps, remember that quitting smoking will not only enable you to get this procedure now, but it will also improve your health in a myriad of ways for the rest of your life.
In addition to following your doctor's instructions, you'll want to make some preparations of your own in advance of your surgery date.
- You will be less stressed about your surgery and have an easier recovery if you take care of all the arrangements in advance.
- This includes planning for a friend or relative to be with you at the time of the surgery and for at least a day afterward, to drive you around and help you with anything you need.
- If you have young children, you will want to arrange for a separate babysitter as well.
- You will not be up to working for at least a few says after your procedure, so even if you usually work only part time or from home you will need to plan on taking some time off.
- If there are any big projects that may be going on during that time, delegate them to co-workers, or pick a different surgery date.
- A few days before your surgery, make a special grocery run to make sure that you have everything you will need for your recovery. This may include a good stock of canned or frozen foods or other easy-to-prepare meals as well as any medical supplies your surgeon may ask you to have on hand.
- Finally, make sure you have some form of passive entertainment on hand for yourself'a few books you've been meaning to read, a season of your favorite show on DVD, a cross stitch project'whatever will help keep you happy during your down time.
- Before you get your surgery (and if you haven't done this already), you will also want to take a look at your budget and work out a plan for how you are going to pay for your surgery.
Fat transfers are not the most expensive cosmetic procedure out there, but in many cases, they still require more money than people tend to have laying around the house. Make sure you have the financial aspects of your surgery taken care of in advance of the surgery. Elective procedures must be paid for in advance or on the day of the surgery, unless you are financing the procedure.
The Day Of Your Surgery
On the day of your surgery, your friend or relative will drive you to the hospital or clinic where your fat transfer will be performed. Once you get there, in general, here is what you can expect:
- You will be asked to put your personal items and clothing in a safe area, and you will be given a surgical gown to wear during the procedure.
- You will probably be given a brief physical exam to confirm that you are ready for the procedure.
- The surgeon or a medical assistant may make the areas on your body where the fat will be going to and from.
- If you are very nervous, your doctor may give you a medication such as Valium to help you calm down.
- When everything is ready, you will be taken into an operating room and given anesthesia to help you through the procedure.
- In general, fat transfers only require local anesthetic, although in some cases an intravenous sedative is also administered. Once the medication has taken effect, the surgeon will begin your liposuction.
Fat Removal Procedure
Exactly how the liposuction procedure is performed during surgery will depend some on what method is being used.
- For regular tumescent liposuction, the doctor will give you an I.V. That will pump a mixture of fluids into the area about to be treated. These fluids include a regular saline solution mixed with anesthetic and steroids designed to assist with the liposuction. These fluids will cause your tissues to swell and harden.
- If you are getting laser-assisted liposuction, the surgeon will use a medical-grade laser to soften and partially liquify the fat, before removing.
- Next, the surgeon will make an incision into the area being treated and push a special hollow needle called a cannula in beneath the skin.
- During water-assisted liposuction, the cannula will spray a small, high-powered jet of water into your tissues to rinse away the fat.
- For Custom Acoustic liposuction, the cannula will be attached to generator that will vibrate it at a special frequency designed to help break apart the fat.
- Whichever method you are using, as soon as the fat has been loosened, the surgeon will use a vacuum-powered machine to suck it back through the cannula and out of your body.
- The fat will then be taken away to be cleaned and prepared for implanting, and the surgeon will close your incisions.
The entire liposuction process will probably take between one and two hours'perhaps slightly less if you are not getting much removed.
Fat Implantation Procedure
Once the fat has been removed, processed and prepared, your surgeon will administer additional anesthetic to the area where you want the fat implanted, and here is what may occur during the implantation procedure.
- Re-inserting the fat into the body usually takes quite a bit longer than extracting it out from the body area
- Depending on the recipient area where the fat will be injected or re-inserted, the surgeon will need to use the specific needles and devices to properly transfer and precisely re-implant the fat.
- This is necessary to ensure a smooth, even look, and to make sure that all of the fat cells have enough access to the blood supply and all the nutrients they will needs to survive.
- Working slowly, your doctor will transfer the fat back into your body in a careful honeycomb pattern.
- Depending on his or her choice of technique, he or she may deliberately implant some excess fat to compensate for any cells that may die during the procedure, or he or she may plan on having you come back at a later date for any necessary touch-ups.
After the surgeon has finished implanting all of the fat required, you will be taken to a recovery room and monitored to make sure you are not experiencing any complications to the surgery or negative reactions to any of the medications used. After enough time has passed for the medical staff to be sure you are stable, you will be given your medical instructions and released into the care of your friend, allowing you to go home to begin your recovery.
Once you are home, it is important to have someone on call and looking after you for 24 hours to make sure you are okay and that you are taking proper precautions and prescribed medications. It is very important to follow ALL post fat transfer care instructions, exactly as provided by your doctor or surgeon to avoid problems and ensure the best results and recovery.
If you should experience any complications, call your surgeon or call 911 if you feel it is an emergency.