August 15, 2022
Not so long ago, a common wishful thought, when it comes to appearance, would have definitely been the ability to transfer fat from areas where excess is in abundance to areas where it is desperately needed. Fast-forward to today, and that wish seems to have come true.
Fat transfer, also known as fat grafting, is a procedure that harvests fat via liposuction. It is then placed in a centrifuge where the fat cells are separated from the non-fat ones. The fat is then injected, using small cannulas or needles, into areas where volume is needed.
What is interesting, and at the same time makes this procedure safe, is that the fat (re)used is from the patient themselves. This reduces the likelihood of tissue rejection. Fat grafting can be done on the breasts, buttocks, face, feet and even hands and is also used in corrective surgeries for botched liposuction, body deformity and scarring from other surgeries.
Fat grafting has been piquing interests since its invention. As such, many questions have been raised by interested individuals.
To learn more about this "miraculous procedure," here are ten things to know about fat grafting or fat transfer.
There are many areas where fat grafting can be done, and opting for the procedure to increase one's breast size seems to be a common trend among women. Fat grafting or fat transfer for breast augmentation is an example of such a procedure. This minimally-invasive treatment provides a natural method to increase the cup size. It is lauded to be an ideal alternative to breast implantation, as the fat utilised is from the patient's own fat source. Breast enhancement via fat transfer for women is also popular among those who have lost volume in the breast due to breastfeeding.
Aside from the breast, fat transfer to the face is also a popular treatment. Some people need some "plumping up" of the face to restore lost volume, and according to a survey by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, fat grafting for the face was up by 22 percent in 2017.
A doctor's experience, skills and qualifications are essential factors to consider for fat grafting. Patients must do comprehensive research on their shortlisted doctors. Only doctors who have received liposuction accreditation by the Ministry of Health Singapore can perform fat grafting procedures on patients in Singapore. The doctor should also have a good artistic sense and, at the same time, put the patient's safety as the priority. This is so that they will be able to deliver results without compromising the patient's health.
Dr Ivan Puah, Medical Director Amaris B. Clinic, believes that it is "70% art and 30% science" when it comes to body-sculpting procedures. A doctor with a sense and appreciation of aesthetics can visualise and deliver natural-looking results that complement a patient's overall physique.
Dr Puah has more than 20 years of clinical experience – over 15 years were spent performing surgical body contouring procedures, medical aesthetics injectables such as botulinum toxins and dermal fillers, skin laser and others. He obtained his VASER Fundamental and Advanced Body Sculpting training in Colorado and Argentina. Dr Puah also received training in Laser Lipolysis in Italy and further honed his gynecomastia surgical skills in San Francisco.
Dr Puah always puts his patients' safety and wellbeing first by adopting a meticulous approach. As an accredited doctor by the Ministry of Health Singapore, Dr Puah is licensed to perform surgical body sculpting procedures such as SmartLipo, VASER Liposuction, liposuction, tumescent liposuction and fat grafting in Singapore.
On the surface, many would assume that fat grafting is a simple "copy and paste" procedure - obviously a wrong assumption. Fat transfer is a delicate and precise procedure made to look easy in the hands of a truly qualified and experienced doctor.
Excess fat is removed from the donor site(s) during the procedure where it exists in abundance. These include the thighs or stomach. This extraction is done via a cannula through small incisions made on the site(s). It takes more than just steady hands for a doctor. The doctor must understand facial and body anatomy, particularly his patient's. He must gauge the amount of fat that needs to be extracted and subsequently inserted. A good anatomical understanding, knowledge and years of experience enable a doctor to sculpt the desired results, akin to a sculptor working on his masterpiece.
This approach applies to all body parts because, after all, a well-crafted and overall balanced appearance ultimately pleases both the beholder's eye and that of objective ones.
Using a patient's own body fat is a 2-in-1 bonus. Patients get to reduce excess fat in problem areas and increase them in areas where it is much-needed. There is no insertion of foreign substances like fillers because the fat is theirs, and this decreases the chance of, among others, tissue rejection and allergic reaction.
Fat grafting results last longer as compared to dermal fillers in general. The retention percentage of fat transfer results in some patients has been between 60% to 70% after a few years. Like dermal fillers, it is used to effectively minimise current ageing symptoms. However, it is important to remember that facial fat grafting, like other cosmetic and aesthetic treatments, cannot protect against future ageing.
When the procedure is done under the hands of a skilled and experienced doctor, the patient can expect the fat filling to be injected in just the right amounts, achieving natural-looking results that will complement her overall facial contour. An aggressive fat filling is discouraged; although it can improve the contour and gives a smoother skin surface, it generally results in a large, overfilled look that appears unnatural and unfeminine.
For a patient, the difference between good and bad lies between a look of admiration and a stare of horror from others.
Facial fat grafting can effectively correct sunken and hollow eyes and dark eye circles due to fat loss around the eyes and sagging cheeks. Areas treatable with this procedure include temples, forehead, brow, glabella, radix, upper orbit (upper eyelid), lower orbit (lower eyelid), cheeks, mid-face, buccal recess, jawlines and many others.
The best way to determine where loss of facial volume occurs is for the doctor to carry out a thorough facial assessment on the patient and identify areas that require grafting.
Fat grafting is gaining popularity in Singapore and worldwide as it can counter volume deflation (fat loss) over time and counter ageing. Although facial wrinkling and sagging are treatable by injecting both botulinum toxins and synthetic (dermal) fillers, the results are temporary. Using either one of the treatment modalities alone cannot restore the plump and youthful quality of the face that is possible with fat grafting.
It works well for the face, but fat grafting has also allowed many post-breast feeding mothers, women with asymmetrical breast shapes, small breasts or sagging breasts due to ageing, to restore body confidence. When done correctly under a pair of skilled hands, the fat grafting results are consistent and longer-lasting. Patients can achieve body sculpting and breast enlargement in one session by removing excess body fat and reusing it to increase cup size.
A patient's needs and concerns should always take precedence. Based on these, a doctor should advise on what is realistically possible.
There are many reasons why a person is seeking aesthetics and cosmetic treatments. Dr Ivan Puah, who has seen patients from diverse backgrounds and different reasons for walking into his clinic, such as to correct botched lipo jobs done in Singapore or overseas, cites self-confidence and major life-changing personal events as two of the more common ones. He treats each of them with a personalised approach because he knows that wanting to proceed with cosmetic surgery is a significant and, at times, nerve-racking decision.
One of the prerequisites of an attending doctor is a good, non-judgmental listening ear. He should also be able to alleviate any concerns that a patient has and earn their trust.
Although fat grafting to the breasts is more popular than fat transfer to the buttocks, according to 2016 Annual Statistics, fat grafting to the buttocks is fast rising to be one of the most sought-after cosmetic surgeries. The stats showed that buttock augmentation with fat grafting has increased 26% more than the previous year, compared to buttock enhancement with implants which only increased by 18%.
The "Brazilian Butt Lift" is another term for buttock enhancement with fat grafting, where excess fat from a patient is transferred into the derriere to achieve a fuller, more rounded appearance. This 2-in-1 body sculpting treatment also contours your overall body shape and gives your buttocks a perkier shape and a more harmonious outlook.
Fat or adipose tissue is the closest, most ideal filler for volume restoration on the face and body and facial rejuvenation to counter ageing. It is readily available and obtainable from the patient with low donor-site morbidity. It is repeatable as long as the patient has enough fat stores for the doctor to draw from.
Needless to say, it is biocompatible as it is from the patient's own fat source. The versatility of fat allows the doctor to use it for cosmetic purposes and correct scars, corrective liposuction, and gynecomastia cases.
Getting fat grafting done is not just a simple matter of walking into a clinic. You don't walk into a fast-food restaurant expecting a meticulously-prepared gourmet meal; you're not part of their demographic, and they are not what you're looking for to suit your pressing intention.
It can never be reiterated enough that a doctor needs to be qualified and experienced. Because it involves fat extraction via liposuction, he must be accredited by the Ministry of Health Singapore to perform fat grafting procedures in Singapore. Just like any other surgical procedure, fat grafting also has its own risks and possible complications. Therefore you must seek a doctor who can give you a detailed consultation and assessment, who is experienced in body sculpting, facial and body enhancement is well documented with proven results. A doctor who has extensive surgical experience will be able to show you different varieties of cases they have performed, including corrective cases, not just one or two before and after pictures.
The correct technique (and being good at them) is important in fat transfer. Remember to always go thorough and proper research on your shortlisted doctors and ensure that all your concerns and worries are alleviated during consultation.