Background: Cell-assisted lipotransfer has shown much promise as a technique for improving fat graft take. However, the concentration of stromal vascular fraction cells required to optimally enhance fat graft retention remains unknown.
Methods: Human lipoaspirate was processed for both fat transfer and harvest of stromal vascular fraction cells. Cells were then mixed back with fat at varying concentrations ranging from 10,000 to 10 million cells per 200 μl of fat. Fat graft volume retention was assessed by means of computed tomographic scanning over 8 weeks, and then fat grafts were explanted and compared histologically for overall architecture and vascularity.
Results: Maximum fat graft retention was seen at a concentration of 10,000 cells per 200 μl of fat. The addition of higher number of cells negatively impacted fat graft retention, with supplementation of 10 million cells producing the lowest final volumes, lower than fat alone. Interestingly, fat grafts supplemented with 10,000 cells showed significantly increased vascularity and decreased inflammation, whereas fat grafts supplemented with 10 million cells showed significant lipodegeneration compared with fat alone
Conclusions: : The authors' study demonstrates dose dependence in the number of stromal vascular fraction cells that can be added to a fat graft to enhance retention. Although cell-assisted lipotransfer may help promote graft survival, this effect may need to be balanced with the increased metabolic load of added cells that may compete with adipocytes for nutrients during the postgraft period.