Background: Given the wide application of autologous fat grafting, a new emphasis on fat processing techniques has emerged in an effort to limit unpredictable degrees of resorption often seen with this procedure. With the growing interest in regenerative medicine, approaches to supplement fat grafts with adipose-derived stem cells are evolving in hopes of promoting vascularization and neoadipogenesis.
Objective: The authors evaluated the outcomes of the most common processing techniques for fat grafting--decantation, washing, high-speed centrifugation--and stromal vascular cell-supplemented lipotransfer to determine which method yields a higher percentage of retention and better quality graft.
Methods: A total of 32 subcutaneous injections of processed human lipoaspirate were carried out in 8 athymic rats. Each animal received all 4 processing conditions, with end points at 4, 8, and 12 weeks postinjection. Evaluation of graft survival included serial measurements of volume retention and histologic analysis.
Results: At 12 weeks postinjection, cell-supplemented and centrifuged grafts showed the most consistent volume maintenance. Based on histologic analysis, cell-supplemented and washed grafts had higher scores of viability and vascularity, with the former presenting the least cystic necrosis and calcification as well as minimal inflammation.
Conclusions: Cell-supplemented lipotransfer had optimal outcomes for graft retention, viability, and vascularity, while washing resulted in high viability with a less intensive process. High-speed centrifugation resulted in consistent volume retention but lower viability. Each of these approaches is ideal under different circumstances and contributes to the versatility and reliability of fat grafting.
Keywords: adipose tissue processing; autologous fat grafting; cell-supplemented lipotransfer; graft viability; stromal vascular fraction; volume retention.