Mechanisms of Fat Graft Survival

Ann Plast Surg. 2016 Feb;77 Suppl 1:S84-6. doi: 10.1097/SAP.0000000000000730.


Although more fat grafting procedures have been performed by plastic surgeons with the primary goal to restore soft tissue loss, the actual mechanism on how fat graft survives remains less completely understood. An established old theory on fat graft survival is still based on the cell survival theory proposed by Peer in the early 1950s. On the basis of his preliminary experimental study, he proposed that the mechanism of fat graft survival is based on established early blood circulation through anastomosis of the fat graft and host blood vessels. Recently, several investigators have demonstrated new concepts of the fat graft survival: One further advanced the old Peer cell survival theory and another based on new discovery and understanding of adipose-derived stem cells. This article serves as a scientific review on how fat graft survives after in vivo transplantation based on a number of well-conducted experimental studies. Both the graft survival and graft replacement theories on how fat graft survives are true based on the previously mentioned well-conducted experimental studies. Each theory may play a role in fat graft survival. It is possible that graft survival may be more dominant in some patients but the graft replacement may be more dominant in other patients.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cell Survival / physiology
  • Graft Survival / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Reconstructive Surgical Procedures / methods*
  • Subcutaneous Fat / blood supply
  • Subcutaneous Fat / physiology
  • Subcutaneous Fat / transplantation*
  • Transplantation, Autologous