Fat grafting to the hand in patients with Raynaud phenomenon: a novel therapeutic modality

Plast Reconstr Surg. 2014 May;133(5):1109-1118. doi: 10.1097/PRS.0000000000000104.


Background: Raynaud phenomenon causes progressively decreasing blood flow to the extremities, resulting from an imbalance between vasoconstriction and vasodilation. Treatment options include biofeedback, phosphodiesterase inhibitors, calcium channel inhibitors, botulinum toxin injection, or surgical sympathectomy. The authors propose fat grafting to the hands as a method to delay progression of the disease.

Methods: Indications included symptomatic Raynaud phenomenon with failure of previous management. Fat is harvested from abdominal depots. Approximately 30 ml of decanted fat is injected by means of blunt cannulae: 10 to 15 ml in the dorsum of the hand, 2 to 3 ml in the snuffbox, 1 to 2 ml in each dorsal webspace, 3 to 4 ml along the superficial palmar arch, 1 to 2 ml in volar webspaces 2 to 4, and 2 to 3 ml in the first webspace. Patients underwent preoperative and postoperative laser speckle imaging study to assess changes in perfusion.

Results: A total of 13 patients were treated (21 hands). Twelve patients had undergone prior botulinum toxin injection, and 11 patients had prior sympathectomies. Findings included reduced pain (average reduction, 6.86 of 10 to 2.38 of 10), fewer cold attacks, improved skin and soft-tissue texture, decrease in ulcerations, and patient-reported improved function. Three patients had no changes. Increased blood flow per imaging was noted in five of 11 hands tested. Six patients had decreased readings on laser imaging. None of the laser speckle imaging changes were statistically significant, and they did not correlate clinically. There were no major complications.

Conclusions: Preliminary results of fat grafting to the hands of patients with Raynaud phenomenon revealed improved symptomatology with evidence suggestive of measurably increased perfusion in some cases. Fat grafting may benefit the management of this patient population.

Clinical question/level of evidence: Therapeutic, IV.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Abdomen
  • Adipose Tissue / transplantation*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Fingers / blood supply
  • Fingers / surgery
  • Hand / blood supply*
  • Hand / surgery*
  • Humans
  • Ischemia / surgery*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Optical Imaging
  • Raynaud Disease / surgery*
  • Skin Ulcer / surgery
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Vasoconstriction
  • Vasodilation