Fat Graft Enrichment Strategies: A Systematic Review

Plast Reconstr Surg. 2020 Mar;145(3):827-841. doi: 10.1097/PRS.0000000000006557.


Background: Autologous fat grafting is a dynamic modality used in plastic surgery as an adjunct to improve functional and aesthetic form. However, current practices in fat grafting for soft-tissue augmentation are plagued by tremendous variability in long-term graft retention, resulting in suboptimal outcomes and repetitive procedures. This systematic review identifies and critically appraises the evidence for various enrichment strategies that can be used to augment and improve the viability of fat grafts.

Methods: A comprehensive literature search of the Medline and PubMed databases was conducted for animal and human studies published through October of 2017 with multiple search terms related to adipose graft enrichment agents encompassing growth factors, platelet-rich plasma, adipose-derived and bone marrow stem cells, gene therapy, tissue engineering, and other strategies. Data on level of evidence, techniques, complications, and outcomes were collected.

Results: A total of 1382 articles were identified, of which 147 met inclusion criteria. The majority of enrichment strategies demonstrated positive benefit for fat graft survival, particularly with growth factors and adipose-derived stem cell enrichment. Platelet-rich plasma and adipose-derived stem cells had the strongest evidence to support efficacy in human studies and may demonstrate a dose-dependent effect.

Conclusions: Improved understanding of enrichment strategies contributing to fat graft survival can help to optimize safety and outcomes. Controlled clinical studies are lacking, and future studies should examine factors influencing graft survival through controlled clinical trials in order to establish safety and to obtain consistent outcomes.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / cytology
  • Adipose Tissue / transplantation*
  • Animals
  • Autografts / physiology
  • Body Contouring / adverse effects
  • Body Contouring / methods*
  • Esthetics
  • Graft Survival / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cell Transplantation / adverse effects
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cell Transplantation / methods*
  • Models, Animal
  • Platelet-Rich Plasma / physiology
  • Transplantation, Autologous / adverse effects
  • Transplantation, Autologous / methods
  • Treatment Outcome