What fat transfer side effects should one expect?
Does fat transfer have dangerous side effects? What side effects should I expect if I have this done? It seems like a better option than implants or injections, but does it leave large scars or significant bruising from the area which it is injected?
When done by a skilled and experienced practitioner, fat grafting is very safe and effective, with few risks. It is generally done through very small incisions so scarring is minimal. Depending upon the area to be injected, you will likely experience some bruising and swelling. You should expect about 50% of what is injected to go away. For the face, implants - like those to the cheeks or chin - are best at enhancing the bony support, not soft tissue enhancement. Fillers to the face have the advantage over fat grafting that there is not harvest necessary, and they reliably last for a set period of time. With the buttocks, implants are a good option for some, but there are higher risks of infection and implant palpability and exposure as compared with fat grafting. Fat grafting to the buttocks, however, runs a small but significant risk of developing a fat embolism - which is where the injected fat can get into a blood vessel. This can travel to the lungs and cause a severe (even fatal) clot. Fillers to the buttocks are not commonly done due to the amount of filler that would be necessary. Sculptra, however, is one filler that is currently being promoted and used as a filler option for the buttocks. That requires a few treatments and lasts a couple of years, but costs several thousands of dollars.
You should be in good hands if you have the procedure done by a board-certified plastic surgeon who is experienced in fat transfer/injection to various areas of the body. The success rate, potential risks, and lasting results largely depend on the area you are targeting, the type of procedure you choose, and the experience level of the plastic surgeon.
As you can imagine, potential complications exist with almost any cosmetic procedure -- fat grafting, breast augmentation, tummy tuck, and the like. If you are focusing on fat grafts versus implant surgery or fillers for the face or for something like a Brazilian butt lift (BBL), then the scarring should be minimal if performed by a well-experienced plastic surgeon.
With fat grafting, unlike an implant procedure or dermal filler, fat is harvested from one area in your body, called the donor site, and injected into another during the fat transfer procedure. The area of bruising and swelling is generally seen/felt in those areas.
Again, if performed by a seasoned professional, the scar tissue that results from this procedure should be minimal as well. Bruising and swelling will go away within a few weeks of this procedure. Make sure you consult with several surgeons in your area before committing to any cosmetic surgery.
As you mentioned, there are a few options available for body contouring, such as implants, fillers, and fat transfer. The method you ultimately select should be based on the area(s) that you are looking to improve and consultations with your plastic surgeon. Each has its pros and cons.
Facial fillers, such as Juvederm and Restylane, do not rely on fat harvesting and fat transplantation. So, the potential for swelling and bruising is limited to the injection site. The results from these types of injectables last from six months to a year, at which time you'll need to decide if you want to repeat the procedure. On the other hand, implants work best to enhance bony areas of the face, like the chin and cheek, versus a soft tissue area where injectables are used.
If you are looking into enhancing the shape of your buttocks, through something like a Brazilian butt lift (BBL), then fat grafting will cause some bruising and swelling where the fat is harvested and where it is injected. Tiny incisions are made in the donor area to harvest the fat and then, again, in the area where it is injected. Many people have chosen this option in recent years.
Butt implants are a viable option for some people, however, the risk of reaction or infection is a bit higher than from grafting and the scarring and swelling can be more pronounced. Dermal fillers are not the best course of action for those looking to enhance their buttocks.
Whatever you decide, please make sure you consult with several qualified professionals first. While the potential for side effects from a fat transfer are generally minimal, it does not mean that they don't happen, as there can be possible complications with any type of surgery.