What is Fat Transfer?

Have you ever heard the saying, “Can you just take fat from where I have too much and put it where I have too little?” Well, surgical fat transfer is just that…the process of transferring fat from a fat-abundant “donor” area, purifying it, and inserting it into the targeted “recipient” area for a more youthful appearance. This surgery is a minimally invasive procedure that utilizes the excess fat on any body area, but typically fat is harvested from the lower abdomen or thighs with VASER LIPOSUCTION. This fat is then processed by one of the established techniques that remove unwanted fluids and oils and transferred to the desired area(s) by a simple injection to naturally restore the volume that has been lost. Typical areas for Dr. Samuels to enhance with this fat transfer are breasts, buttocks, thighs, face, lips, hands or areas where there may be acquired secondary defects or deficiencies.

The process by which the fat is prepared for transfer has much to do with how long-lasting the transferred fat will last, so Dr. Samuels currently uses state-of-the-art fat processing, such as REVOLVE for body fat transfer, and LIPOCUBE for facial fat transfer, to create the longest-lasting and most natural results. Fat transfer is therefore a highly effective and safe technique for:

  • facial or lip augmentation
  • hand surface to conceal unsightly veins
  • buttock augmentation (Brazilian Butt Lift)
  • focal defects in the breast where the transferred fat provides localized additional soft tissue coverage over a breast implant (commonly used in revision augmentation patients)
  • secondary defects of the body or thighs caused by liposuction or soft tissue trauma

Transferred fat may be preferable to injectable fillers or collagen stimulating injectables, such as SCULPTRA or BELLAFILL as it is your body’s own tissue. Your body will not react to transferred fat, and you will not have allergic reaction to it. Fat grafts usually also last longer in the recipient sites because your body will not recognize it as “foreign” and will not degrade it as such like a filler or other injected material. Fat transfer results gradually develop over six months or so, with optimal results lasting a lifetime.

Dr. Samuels currently uses the LIPOCUBE device for most facial fat transfers and the REVOLVE system for larger volume breast and body fat transfer procedures.


LIPOCUBE is a revolutionary new device that allows Dr. Samuels and her nurse providers to process the fat harvested (by VASER LIPOSUCTION) into the perfectly-sized particles for optimal survival, or “take”, of the transferred fat in the recipient area. With use of this simple device, Dr. Samuels pushes the harvested fat atraumatically through the cube and can choose the particle size most appropriate for the purpose: macro, milli, micro or nano-fat. In this way, there is maximal preservation of fat’s regenerative and volumizing properties, at the same time enhancing graft survival and longevity in the recipient site. Since successful facial and hand fat transfer require smaller volumes (typically up to 80 – 100 cc) and the smallest of fat particles, Lipocube is designed to give a versatile choice of particle size for transfer: from micro-fat for augmentation purposes, all the way down to nano-fat (injected the most superficially) for improving skin quality (rather than volumization).


REVOLVE is a closed system of processing larger volumes of fat in a sterile fashion for transfer to areas such as the breast, buttocks and thighs. This system quickly allows Dr. Samuels the ability to harvest and process 500 cc or more of fat in a single session with liposuction and provides excellent fat survival.

Frequently Asked Questions

Fat transfer, also called Autologous Fat Grafting or Lipofilling, is the removal of adipose tissue (subcutaneous fat) from one body area and re-injection into the augmentation area. Subcutaneous fat is the ideal tissue source for fat transfer procedures, as it is relatively easy to extract and has a high survival rate. In addition, transferred fat cells from the same body tend to integrate well with the surrounding tissue, resulting in natural and long-lasting results in most cases. Fat injections are one of the most commonly performed cosmetic procedures. The popularity of this procedure has recently grown because it offers a more natural alternative to other cosmetic surgeries, or to synthetic fillers and implants.

Fat transfer is a safe and clinically proven way to provide a more contoured appearance and enhance facial or bodily symmetry and proportion by restoring volume to deficient areas.  

  • What results to expect:
    • Fat removal by liposuction reduces areas of unwanted fat, while the transfer to the recipient area enhances the shape, size and contours of that area
    • Facial and hand micro and nano-fat transfer reduce wrinkles and restore volume to improve contours and even skin quality itself
    • Low risk of allergies and rejection which significantly reduce adverse events
    • More defined appearance by improving waist-hip ratio as well as the contours of breasts and buttocks  
    • Rejuvenated appearance by restoring lost volume that causes sagging and an aged appearance, resurrecting a more plumped and youthful appearance
    • Minimal scarring since no large incisions are utilized
    • Minimal recovery time since liposuction for fat harvesting is a shorter procedure with a quick recovery time of just two weeks.  It is an outpatient procedure and normal daily activities are resumed immediately, while strenuous activities are resumed after two weeks.
    • Permanent results of 75% or more of transferred fat are typical compared to temporary filler longevity of 12 months (SEE INJECTABLES), or of collagen stimulators (SCULPTRA) of 12-24 months, and BELLAFILL (5 years). 

The cons of fat transfer depend on the patient’s anatomy and the quality of the recipient site tissue. Also, there is a natural limit to how much fat can be safely transferred so that we don’t exceed the blood supply needed to allow for the survival of the transferred fat in its new location. Fat grafts need a good healthy blood supply in order to “take”, and too much fat transferred to an area can overwhelm the native blood supply or cause some of the fat to die (called fat necrosis). The body reabsorbs fat to some degree resulting in a loss of volume; and lastly, fat grafted to breasts can slightly increase volume but will not lift saggy breast skin or tissue. If too much fat necrosis occurs in a grafted breast, this may interfere with mammography, and calcification in fat necrosis could in rare cases lead to the need for a breast biopsy.

Since fat transfer utilizes a natural body substance (adipose tissue), results are generally long-lasting but do depend somewhat on each patient’s individual anatomy. Any pre-existing scar tissue that may be in the area can impede “take” of the fat graft which requires a normal blood supply for integration into the recipient site tissues. In such cases, a repeat procedure may be recommended for optimal results. Fat is also naturally lost as a patient ages further, but maintenance of a healthy weight and lifestyle enhance fat graft longevity. When transferred to the face, Dr. Samuels has seen some facial and lip augmentation results that have lasted beyond 10 – 15 years, but it would be safe to predict results that last at least 3 years or more, since fat is lost over time. Fat transfer is a simple procedure to repeat.

Since fat transfer requires the use of VASER LIPOSUCTION to harvest the fat needed and one of the fat washing and processing devices, plus the time it will require for the processing and injecting of the fat, fat grafting costs will usually exceed that of a filler or collagen stimulating injectable.  Therefore, the exact costs of the procedure will vary according to the size of the areas being treated as well as operative time.  We always provide an accurate cost estimate at the time of consultation.

Fat transfer surgery can take 1-4 hours to perform, depending on the amount of fat being transferred and therefore, how much VASER LIPOSUCTION will be performed. We will review all of this at your consultation and again in a very thorough pre-operative visit with our nurses. We will explain the procedure details, preparation information, and aftercare instructions to ensure you are well-informed throughout the process. In general, it is wise to stay well-hydrated prior to your procedure, avoid excessive alcohol, cease any nicotine usage and blood-thinning medications in the two weeks prior to your procedure. The fat grafting procedure is performed under IV sedation or a light general anesthetic as an outpatient in our fully Quad A credentialed in-suite operating facility. Fat will be removed by VASER LIPOSUCTION via small 5mm incisions in concealed locations, purified and processed using the Lipocube or Revolve system, and then re-injected into the desired areas using the sharp-needle intradermal fat grafting (SNIF) technique.

Most people experience minimal discomfort from VASER LIPOSUCTION and minimal bruising at the fat grafted sites, but the most important thing you can do post-procedure is to carefully follow the discharge instructions you will be given after the procedure. You may want to refer to our information on LIPOSUCTION for more detailed post-operative information, but in general, you will be given a mildly compressive support garment to wear on your liposuction areas and will want to avoid undue pressure on any fat grafted sites to prevent early re-absorption of the transferred fat from too much pressure (more important with buttock augmentation). You will wear this garment for approximately two weeks. We also recommend abstaining from strenuous physical activity for two weeks, although normal daily activities and driving may be resumed 24 hours after an anesthetic. We like for our patients to remain well-hydrated and to eat normally while avoiding fatty foods.

If you are over 18, are in good health, and have a BMI lower than 30, you may be a good candidate for fat transfer surgery. We will review all risks and benefits of any of our procedures with patients in a thorough initial consultation to confirm your eligibility. Fat transfer can be quite beneficial for any adult seeking natural-looking improvements in their appearance. This procedure will help to add volume to areas that have lost fullness due to weight loss, aging, pregnancy, genetics or trauma.

Lipocube is a small handheld disposable, single-use device with six sides that allow attachment of the harvesting and injecting syringes.  By pushing harvested fat through one side of the lipocube, fat is then forced through a series of blades that gently re-parcel the fat cells into the desired particle size…all by a simple series of turns of the cube on itself.  Once the correct particle size is achieved, the fat is then immediately ready for re-injection into the face, lips or hands through a small gauge needle without any additional incisions.  Other than a small amount of bruising from the injection needle, there is really no downtime for the recipient site.   

Revolve is an all-in-one fat processing device that harvests, filters actively washes and removes unwanted strands in fat.  The single-use device includes a mesh filter that strains the liposuctioned fat while it is mechanically yet gently washed to remove free oil, tumescent fluid and cell debris.  The pure fat product is then drawn into a syringe and immediately injected into the recipient site until the desired correction is achieved.  Since the average breast or buttock enhancement may require 200 – 500 cc per breast or buttock, Revolve is preferred over Lipocube for fat processing.

Schedule a Fat Transfer Consultation

For more information about Fat Transfers, schedule a consultation with Dr. Samuels at 502-897-9411.

Our practice serves Louisville, KY and the surrounding area.