Fat Transfers for Scars

Fat transfers use processed fat from the patient’s own body to elevate depressed scars. The procedure also is known as microlipoinjection or autologous fat transplantation. Fat cells are removed by liposuction from the donor area – usually from around the navel or from the thighs or buttocks – using a small needle attached to a syringe. The fat cells are cleansed and processed, and then injected into the scar area using a blunt needle and syringe. Because there is a fairly high rate of re-absorption of the fat cells into the body, the doctor will likely overfill the treated area.

What you should know about fat transfers

The doctor will mark injection points on the scar before cleansing it with an anti-bacterial agent. A topical numbing agent, ice or a local anesthesia is applied to keep the patient comfortable during the injections. Fat is removed from another part of the body, usually the buttocks, abdomen or thighs. The fat is then processed and cleansed before being injected beneath the scar with a very small needle. Some patients experience stinging or burning as the filler is injected. The entire procedure usually takes about one hour.

Why choose fat transfers for scars

Microlipoinjection therapy is effective in treating deep contour defects caused by scarring from nodulocystic acne (distinguished by large, hard and sometimes fluid-filled masses). In some cases, the procedure must be repeated over a period of months because the fat is reabsorbed into the skin. Since the fat is removed from the patient’s own body, there is little risk of rejection or chemical complications.

What to expect after the procedure

Most patients can immediately return to work after treatment. Minimal pain may occur after a few hours. Ice packs are applied at 10-minute intervals for six hours following the procedure. Patients may experience one or more of the following reactions at the injection sites:

  • Swelling that may last for several weeks or months
  • Bruising
  • Redness
  • Possible scabbing

Pain relievers are sometimes prescribed should pain become intolerable. Patients will be required to take antibiotics following the procedure. Some postoperative drainage can be expected as well as bruising and swelling in the treatment area. A follow-up appointment will be necessary to monitor progress and to determine if additional treatments are necessary.

How to prepare for the procedure

Before the procedure, an ASDS dermatologist will review the patient’s medical history. This is the time for the doctor and patient to discuss expectations, potential risks and outcomes of the procedure. 
Before the procedure, an ASDS dermatologist will review the patient’s medical history. This is the time for the doctor and patient to discuss expectations, potential risks and outcomes of the procedure. You should tell your doctor if you use or have recently taken prescription medicines, over-the-counter medicines or herbal supplements.
Patients also will be required to:

  • Avoid aspirin, ibuprofen, blood thinners and Vitamin E for up to 10 days prior to treatment.
  • Avoid alcohol for 48 hours before treatment.
  • Wash hair the night before treatment.
  • Start a prescribed antibiotic as directed the night before treatment.
  • Arrange for a ride home following treatment.

Possible risks

Allergic reaction risk is minimal in fat transfers since the procedure uses the patient’s own fat instead of filler materials. As with any treatment, there are risks associated it, though they are minimized in the hands of a qualified ASDS dermatologist. These include:

  • Bleeding from injection sites
  • Swelling and bruising
  • Redness and tenderness at injection sites
  • Uneven texture of the skin
  • Infection
  • Abscesses
  • Areas that may be overfilled or underfilled