+27 21 424 2251


What is fat grafting?

A surgical fat transfer, also called a ‘fat graft’ or ‘lipomodelling’, is a procedure to move unwanted fat from one part of the body – often the abdomen – to another. The purpose of the surgery is to improve or increase/plump out the area where the fat is injected, in a procedure that involves extracting fat using a liposuction-type technique. Once removed, the fat is processed and injected into the new area. Modern liposuction techniques have improved the results of this procedure, which are now far more satisfactory. Fat grafting can also be used to help heal wounds and scars, and can repair breast tissue that has been damaged by radiation treatment.


In a fat grafting procedure, your specific problem will be corrected. A fat transfer can improve the appearance of the face, buttocks, hips, breasts, and even hands and feet. The result is a more youthful appearance: curves where you want them, fewer facial wrinkles and furrows, and reduced scarring with a more even skin texture.


Before you make the decision to have a surgical fat transfer, your surgeon will discuss whether the surgery is suitable for you. You and your surgeon will discuss your goals to ensure that you’ll have realistic expectations and will know what can be achieved. He or she will need to know your medical history, and what medications you take. You’ll have a physical examination of the area, and will take several photographs.

Before you decide on whether or not to go ahead with the procedure, you should feel free to ask your surgeon any questions or discuss any fears or anxiety relating to the surgery.

What is the procedure for fat grafting?
The first stage of the procedure is the liposuction-style removal of the fat through small incisions in the area. The surgeon uses a cannula, a thin tube to suck out small quantities of fat, and then closes the incisions with sutures.

In the next stage, the fat is separated from blood, dead fat cells and other excess fluids. Then a needle and syringe are used to inject small droplets of fat into the subcutaneous tissue treatment area. This is done without the need for any incisions.

The length of the procedure depends on the size of the area being treated and the amount of fat being transferred. It usually lasts a couple of hours, but if the fat graft is performed over a larger area, the procedure may be performed over several sessions.

How should I prepare for a fat grafting?
Before your surgery you may be asked to stop smoking for 2 – 4 weeks prior to the procedure. Nicotine retards the healing process, and quitting for as long as possible before surgery helps improve blood flow.

You will have to have a blood test before surgery is performed.

You should stop taking certain medication, like aspirin and some anti-inflammatory drugs. Avoid recreational drugs, and disclose to your surgeon any other medication you’re taking, since you may need to adjust these.

Be sure to arrange for transport to and from the clinic, since you will not be able to drive yourself after the procedure.

The surgery will be performed in one of our fully equipped operating theatres.
A surgical fat transfer can be performed under general anaesthesia or under a local anaesthetic, depending on the amount of fat that has to be transferred. A fat graft requiring a smaller volume of fat transfer can be performed under local anaesthetic. Your surgeon will discuss the options with you.
How do I recover from the surgery?
Depending on the type of procedure you have, you may be able to leave the clinic on the same day as the surgery, but some patients will need to stay overnight.

After a fat graft, but you may experience some pain which accompanies the bruising and swelling, but medication will be prescribed for relief.

Remember that you will need to arrange for someone to drive you home after the procedure.

What can I expect after a surgical fat transfer?
Some common side effects after a surgical fat transfer are bruising, swelling, and numbness – which are all temporary. There will be small scars, which will be permanent but will fade.
When can I return to normal activities?
Since there will be bruising and swelling in the treated areas for up to two weeks, you may want to take this time off work to recover, and only return to normal activities, including driving, once the discomfort has gone.

Your body may reabsorb some of the injected fat in the months following the procedure, so the full and final effect of the surgical fat transfer may take several months.

What risks are involved in fat grafting?
As with most surgery, there are some risks, which include bleeding (usually minor) as well as the general risks associated with anesthesia.

A surgical fat transfer is usually not a risky procedure, but the risks that do exist include fat embolism (a blockage in a blood vessel), obvious scarring, haematoma (bleeding beneath the skin), fat necrosis (the death of fat tissue) and pneumothorax (air leaked between the lungs and the chest wall). There is also a chance that after this procedure, you may be unsatisfied with the final result, and may need further treatment.

The surgeon will explain these risks and complications in more detail.