Studies in fat grafting: Part I. Effects of injection technique on in vitro fat viability and in vivo volume retention

Plast Reconstr Surg. 2014 Jul;134(1):29-38. doi: 10.1097/PRS.0000000000000290.


Background: Fat grafting has become increasingly popular for the correction of soft-tissue deficits at many sites throughout the body. Long-term outcomes, however, depend on delivery of fat in the least traumatic fashion to optimize viability of the transplanted tissue. In this study, the authors compare the biological properties of fat following injection using two methods.

Methods: Lipoaspiration samples were obtained from five female donors, and cellular viability, proliferation, and lipolysis were evaluated following injection using either a modified Coleman technique or an automated, low-shear device. Comparisons were made to minimally processed, uninjected fat. Volume retention was also measured over 12 weeks after injection of fat under the scalp of immunodeficient mice using either the modified Coleman technique or the Adipose Tissue Injector. Finally, fat grafts were analyzed histologically.

Results: Fat viability and cellular proliferation were both significantly greater with the Adipose Tissue Injector relative to injection with the modified Coleman technique. In contrast, significantly less lipolysis was noted using the automated device. In vivo fat volume retention was significantly greater than with the modified Coleman technique at the 4-, 6-, 8-, and 12-week time points. This corresponded to significantly greater histologic scores for healthy fat and lower scores for injury following injection with the device.

Conclusion: Biological properties of injected tissues reflect how disruptive and harmful techniques for placement of fat may be, and the authors' in vitro and in vivo data both support the use of the automated, low-shear devices compared with the modified Coleman technique.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / transplantation*
  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Equipment Design
  • Female
  • Graft Survival*
  • Humans
  • Injections / instrumentation
  • Injections / methods
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Middle Aged