Conference Coverage

How, and when, to use fat grafting for scars



Fat grafting has taken off in recent years, especially for breast reconstruction, but it’s become clear that it also has a role in scar treatment, according to Benjamin Levi, MD, director of the burn/wound and regenerative medicine laboratory at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

Some corners of the Internet tout it as “some sort of magic stem cell surgery,” Dr. Levi said, but in reality, for scar surgeons, it’s just another useful tool in the armamentarium, one that excels at filling skin depressions due to underlying tissue loss, whether from burns, trauma, or surgery. Unlike hyaluronic acid and other options, fat grafts last; about half of injected adipocytes remain indefinitely. Fat grafting might also help soften scars, he said.

To get the most out of the procedure, of course, it has to be done correctly, so Dr. Levi took a few minutes at the annual clinical congress of the American College of Surgeons to share his tips on harvesting and spinning down fat grafts, injecting adipocytes, and other matters. Although the concepts of fat grafting are straightforward, the techniques are a bit tricky. Dr. Levi hoped his treatment pearls would help other physicians, especially those considering adding fat grafting to their practice.

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