Liposuction and fat transfer cost is highly variable due to factors such as the donor and recipient site, amount of transferred fat, clinic location, professional/surgeon fee, among others.
While liposuction and fat transfer has many uses in cosmetic and reconstructive plastic surgery, its application is widely popular in Brazilian butt lift (i.e., buttock augmentation via fat injection) and facial rejuvenation surgery.
According to Realself.com, an online forum dedicated to popular plastic surgery procedures, the average cost of Brazilian butt lift is $6,550. Nonetheless, some patients may have to pay for a hefty price tag (as high as $14,000) if their surgeons cater to high-profile people or their clinic is located at a posh district.
But the truth is, the average cost of Brazilian butt lift may greatly vary even among patients treated by the same doctor because others may require just two liposuction areas, while some entail up to six “donor” sites.
To further shed light on the issue, one Brazilian butt lift patient treated by leading Beverly Hills plastic surgeon Dr. Tarick Smiley paid about $6,000 for liposuction and fat transfer that involved collecting donor fats from the lower back, flanks, inner thighs, and bra rolls.
The vast majority of patients will need at least two liposuction sites to collect an adequate amount that will be injected into their backside. However, women on the thinner side may need more donor sites to harvest enough volume to deliver the desired results.
But in facial rejuvenation via fat transfer, the volume of fat required is no more than a few teaspoons; hence, the viable donor sites are almost always not an issue.
A fat transfer involving the face—i.e., flat cheeks, laugh lines, and deep tear trough—can run as low as $3,500, or as high as $11,000. The hefty price tag almost always comes with simultaneous procedures such as facelift, neck lift, eyelid lift, or brow lift.
The upfront cost when fat transfer for facial rejuvenation is used instead of dermal fillers (Restylane and Juvederm) is higher, although in the long run the patient may actually save more because fat grafts that “survive” in the first 3-6 months are expected to be near permanent.
Traditional fillers, on the other hand, typically require 2-3 touch-ups every year.
Meanwhile, some doctors have also started offering fat transfer to replace breast implants; however, the amount of augmentation is rather limited, i.e., not more than a cup size.
Because of the rather marginal results from breast augmentation via fat transfer, many surgeons view it as just an ancillary procedure of breast implant or breast reconstructive surgery. Its primary use is to add more soft tissue coverage to hide implant rippling and minimize palpability.
Liposuction and fat transfer has a significant impact on how plastic surgery today is performed. The modern approach is to replace likes with likes and make every effort to use the patient’s own tissue, as opposed to synthetic prosthetics. Hence, patients nowadays are not limited to choosing facial, breast, and buttock implants because their very own fat can be used as a “volumizer.”
Leading Beverly Hills plastic surgeon Dr. Tarick Smiley says liposuction and fat transfer is particularly helpful in buttock augmentation. Instead of using solid silicone implants to reshape the patient’s derriere, the procedure has allowed doctors to deliver more natural and softer results.
Liposuction and fat transfer has been used to achieve this more sultry, more feminine “backside.”
Buttock augmentation via fat transfer is more commonly referred to as Brazilian butt lift. (This is a misnomer since the procedure does not actually lift the buttocks; it only reshapes and augments them with the patient’s own fat usually derived from the hip-flank region, abdomen, and lower back.)
While liposuction and fat transfer has also been successfully performed in breast augmentation procedure, the use of implants remains the gold standard because of their more predictable results and they give more control over the size and projection of the postop breasts.
Breast augmentation via fat transfer is less likely to deliver more than a cup size increase. Attempting to inject large amounts of fats without taking into account the “pressure and strain” experienced by grafts—a particular concern in women with a rather tight skin—will result in low survival rate and less than optimal results, warns Dr. Smiley.
Fortunately, the aforementioned risks are less of an issue in Brazilian butt lift, he explains.
Aside from Brazilian butt lift, the celebrity plastic surgeon says that fat transfer is also helpful in facial rejuvenation procedures, particularly in facelift surgery, which can only address sagging skin and tissue laxity and has no or very little effect on facial volume or fat loss.
With fat transfer, Dr. Smiley says he can correct the flat or aging cheeks, deep tear trough, laugh lines, and hollowed eye socket—without using dermal fillers, facial implants, and other synthetic materials.
But even without the intention of correcting facial volume loss or flat buttocks, Dr. Smiley says that liposuction as a stand-alone procedure could also benefit from fat transfer. For instance, after liposuction he always examines the treated area (which includes sweeping his hands over the skin) while the patient is still in the operating table to feel any dents that could be smoothed out by fat transfer.
Plastic surgery and stem cells technology are two medical fields that are progressively becoming intertwined. Over the past several years, there have been exciting developments that could help improve the lives of people with cosmetic deformities and terminal and congenital diseases.
However, plastic surgery and stem cells technology is still in the infancy stage and up to this point experts are still deciding how and when to apply this method in clinical practice.
Photo Credit: Advanced Cell Technology via AP
Stem cells, as suggested by leading Beverly Hills plastic surgeon Dr. Tarick Smiley, are noted for their capability to turn into another type of cell, thus their application in cosmetic and reconstructive plastic surgery is almost infinite once their “core nature” and “power” have been harnessed and deeply understood.
In Dr. Smiley’s recent Snapchat video post, he has explained the impact of stem cells on the results of Brazilian butt lift, which in essence is buttock augmentation via fat transfer. In this procedure, excess fats are collected from two or more donor sites through liposuction, which are later purified and re-injected into the patient’s backside.
Because the procedure does not entail the use of artificial prosthesis, such as the case of butt implant surgery, it is perceived to be safer and more natural looking.
After collecting the fats from the donor sites, Dr. Smiley said it is of critical importance to purify them, i.e., remove the blood and other unnecessary materials. The goal, he further explained, is to get the healthiest fats that can survive long term once transferred to the buttocks.
Purified fats are loaded with stem cells, which he said “can promote high survival rate.” Nonetheless, he slightly “over-corrects” the re-injection process because some of the transferred fats will not survive despite best efforts.
“My goal is to achieve a survival rate of at least 70 percent. For this reason, during the initial weeks or months the patients may notice that their backside is swollen or slightly bigger for their liking. However, the long-term results are almost always satisfying,” Dr. Smiley said.
“The 70 percent that survives in the first 3-6 months will persist long term,” he added.
Can Sculptra buttock augmentation provide the same results as the Brazilian butt lift? This is arguably the most common question of patients who want to reshape their backside but have very low body fat percentage to make butt augmentation via fat transfer a viable option.
While Sculptra and other lab-made fillers can add volume to almost any part of the body, leading Beverly Hills plastic surgeon Dr. Tarick Smiley says that Brazilian butt lift remains the gold standard because it gives the surgeon more control over the projection, shape, and size of the buttocks.
In essence, Brazilian butt lift is a buttock augmentation via fat grafting in which excess fats are removed from various donor sites (usually the lower back, hip-flank region, back rolls, and frontal abdomen) and later re-injected into the patient’s backside.
The celebrity plastic surgeon regularly posts Snapchat videos showing how the Brazilian butt lift is accomplished and thus may help viewers (or would-be patients) form “reasonable” expectations and goals.
The problem with Sculptra, he says, is one will need multiple procedures performed several weeks apart just to achieve a “conservative” amount of augmentation; hence, patients seeking for more drastic results will have to adjust their expectations. Furthermore, it may cost as high as $30,000 on top of the fact that the results can only last an average of five years, says Dr. Smiley.
The average cost of Brazilian butt lift, meanwhile, is between $5,000 and $9,000; its highly variable pricing is due to factors such as liposuction or donor sites, clinic location, doctor’s fee, and operating room fee.
With blood supply ingrowth within and around the fat grafts, the results of Brazilian butt lift are near permanent, Dr. Smiley further explains.
Sculptra and other traditional fillers are best reserved for treating small areas such as the laugh lines, deep tear trough, flat or gaunt cheeks, and thinning lips, says Dr. Smiley.
Should the patient elect to have Sculptra buttock augmentation, Dr. Smiley says that while the filler is FDA-approved for facial volume loss, injecting it into the backside is an off-label procedure.
The qualification of buttock augmentation surgeons is the most critical factor affecting patient satisfaction rate, according to California Surgical Institute website.
As of this writing, there are two reasonably safe and effective methods used by buttock augmentation surgeons:
- Brazilian butt lift. In essence, this is buttock augmentation via fat transfer in which the patient’s own fat harvested through liposuction surgery is used to reshape her backside.
- Buttock implants. Solid silicone implants, which do not pose risk of leakage, are positioned above the patient’s sitting area, ideally beneath the muscle for additional soft tissue coverage.
While most patients feel that the technique is the most important factor, the truth is the surgeon’s skill set is the one that largely determines the success rate. Nonetheless, some doctors have their own personal preference based on their experience and “educated” judgment.
For instance, leading Beverly Hills plastic surgeon Dr. Tarick Smiley prefers Brazilian butt lift to buttock implants since the former provides additional contouring thanks to the simultaneous liposuction; it also eliminates implant-related risks such as inadvertent shifting and palpability.
Dr. Tarick Smiley explains the qualifications you should look for in buttock augmentation surgeons:
The proliferation of professional-sounding boards might leave you confuse. Nevertheless, the general rule of thumb is to select a plastic surgeon who has passed the rigorous oral and written exams of the American Board of Plastic Surgery.
Take note that ABPS members must adhere to the strictest standards: they are required to take the board exam every 10 years and continue their education; and they should only operate in an accredited surgical facility.
Plastic surgery is a very broad practice; some surgeons focus only on facial surgeries, others dedicate most of their time perfecting rhinoplasty (nose-reshaping), while others have a preference to body contouring surgeries.
A good rule of thumb is to choose a board-certified plastic surgeon who performs buttock augmentation on a weekly basis. It is important to note that experience will help doctors make educated judgment and minimize or avoid risk of complications.
Even the surgeon with the best clinical skills may not be the right one for you if he has poor bedside manner. It is important that you choose a doctor that you trust completely.
Simply put, your surgeon must have good interpersonal skills, i.e., he must be caring and friendly.