Fat grafting for the hands, face, breasts, and buttocks

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Did you know that you can transfer fat from anywhere in your body to your face or another part of your body, such as your hands? Fat grafting uses liposuction to surgically extract unwanted and excess fat deposits, and then re-inject them into areas of the body or face that need a boost!

From fat transfer for breast augmentation and buttock enhancement, to fat grafting for the face and wrinkly hands, here are some interesting facts about this versatile cosmetic treatment.

Fat grafting: A popular cosmetic surgery

Fat collected via VASER Lipo by Dr. Ivan Puah that will be separated and cleansed for fat grafting in Singapore
Fat collected via VASER Lipo by Dr. Ivan Puah that will be separated and cleaned for fat grafting in Singapore

According to a 2017 survey conducted by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the number of facial fat transfer procedures went up 22.3 percent from 2016. Buttock augmentation (via implants and fat transfer) had a whopping 25.5 percent jump, and breast-related cosmetic treatments were also on the rise. In fact, breast augmentation and liposuction were the top two cosmetic surgical procedures in 2017.

Amaris B. Clinic is one of the few medical practices to offer fat grafting procedures in Singapore. The clinic’s medical director Dr Ivan Puah will first remove unwanted body fat from specific areas of the body (donor site) via VASER Lipo, an assisted and modernised form of liposuction.

Fat tissues are then separated, cleansed and re-injected into areas in need of a boost– for example, facial lines and sunken cheeks (facial fat grafting), droopy or asymmetrical breasts (breast augmentation), saggy buttocks (buttock enhancement) and even ageing hands. The purified fat tissues fill in the “deflated” appearance and create a smoother contour. Since the treatment uses the patient’s own fat, there is no risk of rejection commonly associated with other procedures like fillers or implants.

Fat grafting for the hands

While there’s no fountain of youth, you can give yourself a younger look by getting fat pumped into wrinkly hands. Most of us prioritise our face and neck when it comes to maintaining youth and reversing ageing through cosmetic treatments; yet the hands are also a major giveaway of age. On top of dry, scaly skin, brittle nails and age spots, age leads to a loosening of the skin and the development of wrinkles.

“Your hands lose volume and elasticity over time, which means you can develop a ‘skeletal’ and ‘translucent’ appearance with skin wrinkling as you age,” says Dr Puah. Fat grafting as a treatment for ageing hands is popular in Europe and America. In recent years, its popularity has risen in Asia, too, as more people become aware of its rejuvenating results.  

Breast & Buttock augmentation with fat transfer

Dr. Ivan Puah during a buttock enhancement procedure
Dr. Ivan Puah during a buttock enhancement procedure

Breast enhancement has long been a popular procedure in Dr Puah’s practice for post-breastfeeding mums concerned with saggy, droopy and “empty” breasts. Smaller-chested women who want to increase their cup size without breast implants have also benefited. A 2017 article by Today revealed that local doctors are seeing a growing interest in fat grafting procedures specifically for breast augmentation with fat transfer (instead of implants).

Another popular fat transfer procedure is buttock enhancement; this can help to add volume and smoothen out skin textures. Similar to breast enhancement surgeries that use fat transfer, the procedure involves liposuction to extract fat tissues and redeposit them into the buttocks. As no implants are used, any potential risks of ruptures or leaks are eliminated.

Facial fat grafting

Over time, the collagen and volume in our skin tissue depletes. Subjected to the laws of gravity, the skin gets saggy and droopy, with lines and wrinkles appearing on the face and neck. The ADR-C Facial Enhancement (facial fat grafting) at Amaris B. Clinic aims to restore youth by replacing loss volume, lifting facial projections and achieving skin rejuvenation.  

“Apart from being a solution to counter signs of ageing, one other reason for the rise of facial fat grafting is the presence of social media, facial augmenting apps and filters. Many of my patients want smoother skin and enhanced facial features such as cheeks, chin and temples, which are achievable with facial fat grafting,” Dr Puah adds.

Why fat grafting?

For body fat grafting procedures like breast and buttock enhancements, you’re getting a two-for-one deal. The process allows you to take away stubborn body fat in any of your “problem areas” to enhance another, all in one session. You can even have your harvested fat injected into more than one part of the body at a time.

Furthermore, repurposing your own body fat works better than other kinds of fillers or implants since it’s “natural”. Instead of having a foreign substance inserted into your body (silicone breast implants or dermal fillers for your face, for example), you’re reusing your own fat. This reduces the chances of rejection or allergic reaction, and produces more natural-looking results.

Additionally, the results are permanent, with a retention rate of around 70 to 75 percent. A research study done in 2017 proved that adipose (fat) tissue is easily obtainable and biocompatible, which means it isn’t harmful to living tissue.

A work of art

Dr. Ivan Puah during a liposuction and fat grafting procedure in an operating theatre in Singapore.
Dr. Ivan Puah during a liposuction and fat grafting procedure in an operating theatre in Singapore.

Fat grafting is seen by some as more than just a “copy and paste” surgery, but also a work of art. To achieve safe and natural-looking results that don’t look overly done, the procedure requires a doctor with a good artistic perception, attention to detail, a good understanding of facial and body anatomy and years of experience. They must know exactly how much fat needs to be extracted, where it should be removed from and the correct injection techniques.

Dr Puah believes that fat grafting, like all other face and body sculpting and enhancement treatments, is around 30 percent science and 70 percent art. He likens the process to a sculptor uses his artistic training to mould material into the desired shape – in this case, he combines his artistic sense with modern technology to shape the face and body.

Not all doctors in Singapore are certified to conduct fat transfer procedures. As the procedure involves surgical fat removal, only doctors accredited with a liposuction license can perform fat grafting. The treatment requires highly trained, experienced doctors who are adept at injecting fat tissues into the subcutaneous layers of the skin for optimum retention. Good techniques are a must. It’s always advisable to choose a qualified and well-trained doctor who has had years of experience in liposuction, body sculpting and enhancement procedures that can speak to his skills. After all,  your face and body are at the mercy of their hands!

Where to go

A VASER-certified doctor who is also accredited by the MOH to perform liposuction in Singapore, Dr Puah has over 15 years of surgical experience in body-sculpting procedures such as liposuction, VASER Lipo, VASER Hi-Def Lipo, SmartLipo, facial and body fat grafting, and gynecomastia. He has also trained in syringe liposculpture, fat grafting and thread lift under renowned French plastic surgeon, Dr Pierre François Fournier.

Under the care of Dr Puah and his medical team, your procedure will be carried out in their MOH-accredited operating theatre. An anaesthesiologist will take care of you during the surgery while you’re under twilight sedation (not general anaesthesia), ensuring that you’re comfortable, relaxed and safe. Postoperative care is provided by a comprehensive post-surgical care team.

Amaris B Clinic was recognised as “2019 Body Sculpting Provider of the Year in Asia Pacific”, “2020 Body Sculpting Medical Centre of the Year in Asia Pacific” and “2020 Integrated Healthcare Medical Centre of the Year in Asia Pacific” by GlobalHealth Asia-Pacific, an accolade given to medical practices that have maintained high standards in quality care.