Fat Transfer Controversy: Fresh or Frozen?

Doctors are exploring the possibilities and options of using frozen fat as opposed to fresh fat in transfers. The question is, do the two types heed the same results?

Fat transfer, or the removal of fat from one place on the body for placing elsewhere, is traditionally performed with fresh fat. Some doctors are now cryogenically freezing fat for future use.

According to plastic surgeon Dr. Hatem Abou-Sayed, “Most patients have donor sites of fat that can be used for fresh transfer. I think the argument that you can get equivalent results from frozen fat compared to fresh fat, I think that’s a difficult argument to make with the science.”

Dr. Jeffrey Hartog of Winter Park is testing this theory through Liquid Gold, his new fat bank where he freezes fat in a cryogenic chamber. Because people lose tissue volume as well as fat and its stem cells as they age, freezing the fat is more beneficial than losing it altogether.

“Fat is 100, even 1,000 times richer in these stem cells than bone marrow,” explained Hartog. “Instead of throwing the fat away, we re-inject the fat into the areas that we want.”

This works in the case of patients that get fat transfers but need multiple surgeries, so conserving the leftover fat through freezing it is beneficial.

“Your own fat transfers to one part of your body to another. The key is that fat has to take as a graft, and once it does, it’s your own,” Hartog said.

When it comes down to it, it seems this is one topic that doctors will have to experiment with to make a decision.