Fat is no longer an unattractive word. Those in tuned with current cosmetic surgery trends would have heard of microfat grafting and nanofat grafting. The discovery that fat tissue contains high levels of growth factors and stem cells (known as adipose-derived stem cells) has led to the surge of interest in these procedures, not only as a filler, but also to rejuvenate the skin.
Everyday seems to bring new claims of what fat grafting can achieve. So does fat grafting really work? What are the differences between Microfatand Nanofat? To help explain fat grafting procedures in more detail and unravel reality from hype, we speak to Consultant Plastic Surgeon, Dr. Chia Hui Ling, who specialises in fat grafting and has research interest in fat grafting techniques.
What is Microfat grafting and what can it achieve?
Using liposuction, fat is first harvested from the body where there is excess fat. The fat is processed into Microfat by filtration and purification to remove impurities such as oil and fibers. The purified fat is injected back into areas where it is needed, to add volume and to iron out deep wrinkles. It is important that the fat grafts are “micro”, which means it is processed into small particles so that it is better accepted by the body and helps to avoid lumpiness.
In the face, it is ideal for correcting sunken eyes or temples, and to plump up forehead, chin and cheeks to give a more youthful V- or egg-shaped face. Deep neck lines can also be softened with fat grafting. In the body, the fat can be re-injected to fill up the breasts and buttocks.
Are the results permanent?
Our body will retain only a portion of the fat after each procedure. With good technique and modern equipment, the permanent retention can be up to 50-70%.
You may need more than one session to achieve the desired effect. For fat injection, often less is more. Being overzealous and injecting too much fat at one session, may results in fat cysts and lumps.
How is Nanofat different from Microfat and what is it good for?
Similar to Microfat grafting, we collect fat using liposuction. Instead of using the fat cells for volumising, the fat is emulsified and filtered to remove the cells. The liquid remaining, which is rich in stem cells and growth factors, is injected back into the skin for repair and rejuvenation.
Nanofat grafting is good for
- Dark eye circles and crepey skin around the eyes
- Superficial fine lines, common around lips and on the décolletage
- Thin, sun-damaged skin
The effects may not be immediate and will take effect after around 6 months, the time needed for cell regeneration. Nanofat grafting is often combined with Microfat grafting. Their synergistric effect both refines the skin and volumizes.
Who should avoid fat grafting?
Fat grafting is considered a minimally-invasive surgery because it is performed through very small incisions. It is safe for most, unless you have a serious medical condition, or have blood disorders or take medications that may cause excessive bleeding.
What is the downtime and side effects with fat grafting?
Swelling and bruising will improve within a week for Nanofat grafting alone.
With Microfat grafting, this may last for 1-2 weeks after each session. This depends on how much fat grafting is done. Lumpiness at the injected site is possible. It is crucial that the fat is processed and injected meticulously to avoid this.